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Kim Jong-un urges Korean reunification
January 3, 2013, 4:47 pm

[Getty Images]

Kim Jong-un’s latest speech took a conciliatory line [Getty Images]

In an unprecedented New Year’s speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for a stepping back from confrontation with South Korea and urged the two countries to work toward reunification.

His comments come amid more receptive overtures and a likely shift in policy from South Korea.

Two weeks earlier, South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye signalled that she was willing to pursue greater engagement and credible diplomacy with Pyongyang.

Geun-hye will become South Korea’s first female president when she takes office in February.

North Korean officials believe that talks with Geun-hye’s administration could ease five years of lingering tensions between the two countries which are still technically at war.

Seoul has warned of its neighbour’s increased militarisation, particularly in the wake of Pyongyang’s successful launch of a long-range missile in early December 2012.


Pyongyang said it was the launch of a weather observation satellite but Japan and other countries in the region condemned the move and called for harsher sanctions.

However, some Western analysts believe the launch is a bold political move which empowers and enhance’s Jong-un’s influence among his military and legitimises his leadership at home.

They say that it compensates for an embarrassing failed launch of a similar missile last year and appears to give Jong-un political capital to deal with Seoul.

“An important issue in putting an end to the division of the country and achieving its reunification, is to remove confrontation between the north and the south,” Jong-un said in his speech.


“The past records of inter-Korean relations show that confrontation between fellow countrymen leads to nothing but war.”

There are signs that the conciliatory tone from Pyongyang may already be paying dividends.

On Thursday, South Korean newspapers carried reports that the current government had agreed to increase an annual budget to fund projects with the North by nine per cent.

The $1 billion fund covers humanitarian aid, agricultural projects and family exchanges.

The BRICS Post

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