MOSCOW, June 29. /TASS/. No clauses of the Panmunjom declaration, signed in 2018 by Pyongyang and Seoul, were fulfilled, due to the position of South Korea, Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora told TASS Monday.
"The thing is, the North Korean leader very much counted on relations between the North and the South to be decided in a bilateral format, with no outer intervention. A wonderful declaration was signed in 2018, which mentioned a whole set of projects to be implemented in a bilateral format. The economic, social and public projects. Unfortunately, effectively none of them was implemented," he said.
"The South Korean side explained it all by the North having to negotiate nuclear business with the US first. This, of course, caused a negative reaction. As well as a number of other measures taken by the South — military drills and import of military vehicles. In general, it was clear that [the escalation] would happen. And, regrettably, it happened," the envoy underscored.
The last straw
In this regard, Matsegora noted that the leaflets, which the South Korean NGOs used to provoke the North Korean authorities, were not the main cause of escalation of relations, but rather a pretext.
"This was not the first launch of leaflets; they were launched 10 times last year. On May 31, another batch of leaflets was launched, sparking discontent and serious outrage in the DPRK. It is explained by the fact that this time, the leaflets bore a special kind of dirty, insulting propaganda, aimed at the leader’s spouse. And it was all made in such a low-grade way, with photoshop. This, of course, is unacceptable, and it caused serious discontent [in the DPRK]. Not only among the authorities, but among the people, as well," the diplomat explained, adding that this propaganda acted as "the last straw."
"One might say that we have witnessed a, regrettably, unsuccessful end of a detente, initiated by the DPRK. And we cannot speak about it other than with regrets. It would have been nice if they managed it, our Korean friends in the North and the South, but this didn’t happen," the envoy concluded.
During the last several weeks, South Korean Fighters for a Free North Korea non-governmental organization launched several hundreds of thousands of leaflets, containing criticism of the North Korean authorities, from the border zone via balloons. These actions caused harsh reaction from Pyongyang, because dissemination of such materials was forbidden by the Panmunjom declaration, signed in 2018. On June 16, North Korea blew up the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, calling it a retaliation measure. The North Korean General Staff announced plans to send troops to the Geumgangsan and Kaesong regions, and to restore guard posts in the Demilitarized Zone, previously withdrawn in compliance with an agreement with Seoul, as well as to resume all kinds of military drills near the South Korean border.