South Korea to restructure Unification Ministry amid turbulent relations with North

South Korea to restructure Unification Ministry amid turbulent relations with North

‘North Korea has started offensive military actions in response to joint military exercise by South Korea, US,’ says Seoul

By Necva Tastan

ISTANBUL (AA) - The Korean Unification Ministry said on Wednesday that it is planning to restructure its units overseeing exchanges amidst tense inter-Korean relations and increased tensions on the peninsula.

The ministry intends to trim 81 employees (about 13% of its workforce) and combine four divisions, including those in charge of inter-Korean exchanges and a discontinued North Korean industrial complex, Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported, citing an official gazette.

The remarks come after President Yoon Suk Yeol's plea in early July to alter the ministry's role, saying that it should not function as a "support" agency for the "uncooperative regime."

The government also plans to establish new units, including a task force for North Korean abductees, and strengthen its role in intelligence analysis and public awareness for reunification.

“The envisioned plan factored in how South-North exchanges and dialogue have been suspended and comes from the notion that a flexible, competitive and efficient organization that is fitting to international political circumstances is necessary," Vice Unification Minister Moon Seoung-hyun told reporters last month.

The unification ministry also said that North Korea has started "offensive" military actions in response to a joint military exercise by South Korea and the US.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Unification Ministry said it was monitoring North Korea's border opening.

"North Korea has opened its border in a limited manner while struggling to stabilize a food crisis," the ministry said.

Pyongyang resumed international flights on Tuesday, the first time since 2020, with an Air Korea plane landing in China.

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