U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo furiously harangued Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in a telephone call on September 17 about South Korea's rapid rapprochement with North Korea.
South Korea's unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon added Thursday that there has been "no detailed review" on lifting sanctions but said Seoul has taken measures for cross-border cooperation "in a flexible manner".
Tensions between North Korea and China, long-standing allies, have increased in recent years as China endorsed and implemented U.N. Security Council sanctions that squeezed the North Korean economy.
The Trump administration has credited its pressure campaign, involving tightened sanctions, with bringing North Korea to the negotiating table to discuss the dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea is very interested in reaching some sort of agreement on denuclearization so that it can grow economically with the benefit of the foreign investment closed to it now, Trump said.
The Chinese sports delegation, including male and female players, arrived in Pyongyang on Monday afternoon before North Korea's Party Foundation Day on Wednesday, marking the 1945 foundation of the precursor of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. "This indicates that Seoul is unhappy with the Americans: If Kang made a faux pas, she would be fired".
Kang pointed out that many parts of South Korea's 2010 sanctions now duplicate United Nations sanctions that were considerably strengthened after 2016 when the North began accelerating its nuclear and missile tests. Pompeo recently visited Kim in Pyongyang in an effort to set up another summit between him and Trump following months of friction in lower-level talks that saw North Korea accuse Washington of "gangster-like" demands on denuclearization.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha writes down a lawmaker's question during a parliamentary audit of her ministry's affairs at its headquarters in Seoul on October 10, 2018.
The demand for the hike is aimed at covering the costs for the regular or emergency deployment of "strategic assets" to the Korean Peninsula, he said, referring to advanced USA weapon systems like stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and nuclear subs. South Korea has blamed North Korea for the attack, which the North continues to deny.
But the removal of such sanctions wouldn't be enough to get the tours back on, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a policy adviser to Moon. "This has nothing to do with restarting the Kaesong factory park". Still, the lifting of the 2010 sanctions could offer at least some tangible benefits to the North.
One source close to the Foreign Ministry said, "You wouldn't have got this response if there had been prior consultations between the US and South Korea".
The May 24 measures include the South blocking North Korea's access to the Jeju Straight.
When it comes to foreign basketball superstars who have visited North Korea, one player used to tower above all others: 6-foot-7, five-time NBA champion Dennis Rodman.