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South Korea president under fire for equally blaming Seoul, Pyongyang

By
Elizabeth Shim
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the two Koreas are responsible for stalled inter-Korea family reunions. File Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the two Koreas are responsible for stalled inter-Korea family reunions. File Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 12 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in is under fire for equally blaming North and South for stalled inter-Korea family reunions.

In a televised interview on KBS on Friday during Korea's Chuseok holiday, Moon said it is a "pity" the two Koreas have not convened meetings of families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War.

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"We have previously made joint statements regarding inter-Korea family reunions" with the North, Moon said. "It's a pity they have not made swift progress.

"For not providing a meeting opportunity for families separated for a long period of time, that is the fault of both the South Korean government and the North Korean government."

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Seoul's opposition condemned the statement, including conservatives representing two political parties.

Lee Jong-chul, a spokesman for the center-right Bareun Mirae Party, said the statement was "discomforting" because the South has called for talks on the reunions while the North has refused to cooperate on the matter.

"Whether it's difficulties that occur frequently, difficulty with negotiation, at present the primary responsibility lies mostly with the North Korean regime," Lee said Friday, according to local news service News 1.

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Lee also said Moon was choosing his words carefully so "they sound good to Chairman Kim Jong Un."

Main opposition Liberty Korea Party spokesman Lee Chang-soo said Moon was treading dangerous ground when he referred to the Kim regime as the "North Korean government," local news service EDaily reported.

Lee said he "couldn't believe his ears" when he described the ruler in Pyongyang as a government.

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South Korea does not recognize the North Korean government to be legal and claims sovereignty over the entire peninsula.

"It feels unreal the president in an official statement would recognize the North Korean system during the traditional Chuseok holiday," he said.

The two Koreas last held reunions in 2018.

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