Seoul to remain steadfast in N.Korea policy

The South Korean government on Thursday protested against North Korea's latest threat to cut off overland passage through the military demarcation line and direct telephone lines through the truce village of Panmunjom. But the government reaffirmed the principle that inter-Korean issues should be solved through dialogue and made clear that there will be no change in its basic North Korea policy.

"North Korea has been stepping up action," Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters. "They are mistaken if they still believe they can push for their hackneyed policy of communicating with the U.S. and freezing out South Korea." He added Seoul and Washington "will continue to maintain close cooperation after the next U.S. government is inaugurated."

The official said Seoul believes that issues should be solved through dialogue and "sincerely hopes to help North Korea. The door to dialogue is always open, but it's a regret to see North Korea reject our proposal and try to achieve a deal by stepping up pressure in other ways. We hope that the North will come back" to the dialogue table.

Speaking as a guest at a seminar hosted by the Kwanhun Club, a senior journalists' association, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said, "Vague calls for change in our North Korea policy are unhelpful in a situation where North Korea is launching offensives against us and driving us into a corner."

Meanwhile, North Korea the same day cut direct telephone lines operated through the Red Cross office at the truce village of Panmunjom.

Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun said, "We tested the telephone lines in the morning but found them disconnected." It is the third time the direct phone lines have been cut off since their opening in 1971.