South Korea Dismisses Kim Jong Un’s Call for Reduced Tensions

Posted January 2nd, 2013 at 9:35 am (UTC-5)
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South Korea has dismissed a New Year's Day speech by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un calling for reduced tensions with Seoul.

Unification Minister Yu Woo-Ik Wednesday called Mr. Kim's speech “bland,” saying it contained no groundbreaking 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 North and South.

Some obsevers said the speech was unusually conciliatory and could also signal possible domestic reforms. One South Korean analyst said the North may offer greater incentives for farms and factories, and ease state controls over businesses.

Kim Jong Un did call for 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.