S. Korea Dismisses Kim Jong Un’s Call for Reduced Tensions

Posted January 2nd, 2013 at 9:45 am (UTC-5)
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South Korea is dismissing a New Year's Day speech by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that called for reduced tensions with Seoul.

Unification Minister Yu Woo-Ik said Wednesday that Mr. Kim's speech was “bland” and contained no ground-breaking proposals. He said Seoul has good reason to question the young leader's intentions.

Mr. Kim Tuesday urged an “end to confrontation,” and repeated his call for reunification between the South and the North.

Some observers said the speech was unusually conciliatory, and may signal coming domestic reforms. One analyst from Seoul National University, Chang Yong-Seok, said the North could offer farms and factories greater incentives, and ease state controls over businesses.

Mr. Kim did call for the development of more “cutting edge arms and equipment” and repeatedly praised the military. Inter-Korean tensions were raised in December when Pyongyang launched a rocket that placed what it said was a weather satellite into orbit.

The move was condemned by the United Nations Security Council as a violation of sanctions banning the North from conducting long-range ballistic missile tests.

South Korea's president-elect, Park Geun-Hye, has called for improved relations with North Korea, but has also insisted that Pyongyang make concessions on its nuclear and missile programs.