North Korea denounces defectors, ignores calls from South

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  May 21, 2018 at 10:50 AM
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May 21 (UPI) -- North Korea is keeping up a campaign of pressure against the South, a policy that is culminating in unresponsiveness at Panmunjom and the retraction of invitations to South Korean journalists to observe the shutdown of its main nuclear site.

Pyongyang's propaganda outlet DPRK Today issued a statement Monday condemning defector-activists in the South, while criticizing the South Korean government for permitting groups like Fighters for Free North Korea to send helium balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

"Human garbage of the defector group Fighters For Free North Korea acted rashly when they sent 150,000 anti-[North Korea] leaflets from the border region of Paju, Gyeonggi Province," the statement read, adding the group took action in the early morning hours like a "thieving cat."

The North Korean statement also targeted main opposition party conservative Hong Jun-pyo.

Hong has criticized the Panmunjom Declaration, signed between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un.

North Korea has also been unresponsive to South Korean requests to accept a list of eight South Korean journalists who are planning to attend the dismantlement of the North's Punggye-ri nuclear site this week.

Four out of the eight South Korean journalists waiting in Beijing have not yet received their visas, South Korean news service SP News reported Monday.

All other foreign journalists, including Americans, have received travel permission and are on standby at the airport in Beijing that serves as a point of transfer between North Korea and the rest of the world.

North Korea has reportedly demanded each journalist pay a visa fee of $10,000, according to South Korean press reports.

North Korea has also denied access to the country for a group in the South that has persistently called for engagement.

South Korea's June 15 Committee, named after the declaration signed between former President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong Il in 2000, was scheduled to hold a meeting in Pyongyang this week, but North Korea has not extended an invitation, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo reported.

In 2008, North Korea received $2.5 million from the United States to detonate a cooling tower at its nuclear facility in Yongbyon.

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