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Seoul politicians raise concerns ratifying Panmunjom Agreement

By
Jennie Oh
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sign the joint Panmunjom Declaration on Friday. Photo by Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps/UPI
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sign the joint Panmunjom Declaration on Friday. Photo by Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, May 1 (UPI) -- South Korea's presidential office plans to push for the ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration, reached by President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week.

Moon on Monday had requested a fast action to legalize the document, under which the two Koreas pledged efforts to fully denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, reduce military tension and pursue a peace treaty.

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However, the move sparked criticism from opposition politicians and experts, who have raised concern with the declaration.

The Liberty Korea Party pointed out the document contains pro-North Korean undertones, and North Korean-style socialist terminology such as "uriminzokkiri," meaning "our people alone," which is also the name of the North's propaganda website.

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Experts have also shown concern that the document calls for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, not specifically North Korea.

As South Korea does not have nuclear weapons, security experts believe the document may pertain to the U.S. nuclear umbrella and troops in the South.

As Moon's ruling Democratic Party also pushes for the ratification of the declaration, the LKP and centrist opposition Bareunmirae Party have protested the apparent top-down initiative from the presidential office.

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"According to the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act, the president must first put the agreement through a Cabinet meeting review. It is deeply regrettable that the government and the ruling party cannot even comply with basic procedures," said Kim Dong-cheol, floor leader of Bareunmirae Party.

Opposition lawmakers have also argued that the South Korean constitution does not even recognize the North as a sovereign country, which suggests that treaties with the North should not be ratified by parliament.

They also say Seoul needs to wait for the results of the U.S.-North Korea summit before taking decisive actions.

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The top office and the ruling party said they will initiate a legal review across related government departments before considering whether to push for a parliamentary ratification of the cross-border agreement.

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