DPRK sends new year fax

According to Yonhap:

Closing a tense year in cross-border relations, North Korea is faxing New Year’s greetings to South Koreans likely to support the resumption of cross-border aid next year, an official said Thursday.

A total of 35 organizations, including local governments near the border with the North, and 15 South Korean activists, have so far received such faxes, the government official said, asking not to be identified by post or name.

North Korea has often used fax documents this year to deny its involvement in the deadly March sinking of a South Korean warship and its responsibility for the artillery exchange between the two countries in the Yellow Sea in November.

Two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed in the artillery attack on the island of Yeonpyeong. The latest North Korean fax offensive did not refer to the attack, but contained calls for the South to honor their past two summit deals promising economic aid and cooperation for the North, the official said.

“We are here sending New Year’s greetings. We wish you success in your patriotic activities toward the reunification of the (Korean) nation and the defense of peace and stability under the banner of the inter-Korean declarations,” the fax was quoted as saying.

North Korea has sent similar faxes to South Korea annually since 2001, according to the official. The two countries held their first summit in 2000, and the second one took place in 2007.

The official said the recipients this year included the Incheon city government and the Gangwon provincial government, both of which are headed by liberals supporting assistance to North Korea.

“The North also appears to be trying to create a rift and trigger an anti-government struggle among us,” the official said.

The ties between the Koreas deteriorated after a conservative government took power here in early 2008, suspending unconditional aid and pushing the North harder to take denuclearization steps.

The two Koreas remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. South Koreans are banned by law from contacting North Koreans without prior approval.

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N. Korea faxing New Year’s greetings to S. Koreans
Sam Kim


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