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S. Korean Unification Minister Warns N. Korea against Nitpicking

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea's point man on North Korean issues warned the socialist country on May 2 against nitpicking, saying such an attitude will not help resolve the Kaesong Industrial Complex issue.

   Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said in a speech that if the North keeps nitpicking South Korean media reports or remarks by Seoul government officials, "the Kaesong Industrial Park has no hope even after it normalizes."

   Such a hostile stance by the North may thwart any efforts by the two Koreas in building trust between them, the minister said.

   Some domestic newspapers have issued articles saying the North may not dare to close the jointly-run project because it's one of chief foreign currency income sources for the impoverished country.

   The North took issue with the reports before banning South Korean workers entry into the industrial park on April 3, which is deemed the last symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation. A week later, the North withdrew all of its workers, employed by South Korean firms there. Only seven South Korean workers are now staying in the zone.

   "(Despite the ongoing trouble,) the government will not give up efforts to resolve the issue through dialogue," Ryoo said, calling on the North to come to the negotiating table.


S. Korea's Power Supply to Kaesong Plunges on Low Demand

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea's supply of electricity to North Korea has fallen sharply after a jointly run industrial complex in the socialist country was temporarily shut down, officials said May 6.

   South Korea has a maximum daily capacity of sending 100,000 kilowatts to the factory zone in the North's border city of Kaesong, but its supply has tumbled to around 3,000 kilowatts a day, said the officials at the unification ministry that handles inter-Korean affairs.

   Before the trouble erupted, South Korea's power supply to the Kaesong industrial complex ranged from one-third of the capacity to half, they said.

   The tumble in power supply came after more than 120 South Korean workers and managers returned home from Kaesong on April 27. The last seven South Koreans withdrew on May 3 after settling outstanding wages and taxes owed to the North.

   Amid acute cross-border tensions, the vast factory zone ground to a halt in early April after North Korea unilaterally withdrew all of its 53,000 workers. South Korea responded by pulling out its own people who once hovered around 800.

   Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk said a sharp drop in demand in Kaesong affected South Korea's supply of power.

   "The plunge in demand has translated into only a bare minimum of power being sent," Kim told reporters, denying that the drop was intentional.

   He said that while power lines and sub stations can still handle the maximum load, there is no reason to send so much power, since all factories in Kaesong are closed.

   The spokesman declined to elaborate, but a source at the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) said about 3,000 kilowatts of power is being used at Kaesong. KEPCO officials said that even before operations were halted at the zone, power sent from the South hovered between half and a third of the maximum capacity.

   One KEPCO official said that because power is still reaching the industrial park, the water treatment facility there is still working. The water processed there is supplied to tens of thousands of Kaesong citizens.

   In testimony to a parliamentary hearing, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said the amount of power supplied to Kaesong has steadily dropped to one-tenth of the normal level, starting in late April.

   Seoul originally had hinted that it would completely cut off power supply to the industrial complex but it has opted not to do so for the time being because such a move may be viewed in the North as a sign that the industrial park is doomed to die.


President Park Vows to Make N. Korea 'Pay' If It Attacks S. Korea

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- On the eve of her first summit with U.S. President Barack Obama, South Korean President Park Geun-hye voiced strong commitment on May 6 to ending North Korea's nuclear programs and making the socialist regime "pay" if it attacks the South.

   "The reason I am pushing for the Korean Peninsula trust process is that we can never tolerate North Korea's nuclear programs. There can never be any reward for North Korean provocations, and we will make them pay if they launch attacks," she said during a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

   The Korean Peninsula trust process is Park's trademark policy on Pyongyang.

   It is basically a two-track approach of pressure and flexibility on North Korea, under which Park has pledged strong retaliation against any provocations while at the same time calling for dialogue and exchanges to foster trust and reduce tensions.

   But the focus of the May 6 remarks -- first in the meeting with Ban and then in a media interview and a meeting with South Korean residents -- was more on the "stick" side than the "carrot" side, which could have been aimed at dispelling doubts in the U.S. about the policy.

   In April, the U.S. stopped short of expressing full "support" of the trust approach, only saying in a statement adopted when Secretary of State John Kerry visited Seoul that it "welcomes" the policy. Some critics said the expression could reflect U.S. doubts.

   The White House summit, set for Tuesday, comes as North Korea has toned down its war rhetoric and begun talking about the possibility of dialogue with Washington after weeks of nuclear strike threats and other menacing bombast against South Korea and the United States.

   The two leaders are expected to coordinate stances on how to deal with Pyongyang.

   On May 6, President Park said the North should give up its nuclear program if it wants a better economy.

   "North Korea is trying to take the course of developing its economy while possessing nuclear weapons in a parallel way. But in fact, (the two) are not compatible, and this is an impossible goal," she said during talks with Ban, according to her spokesman Yoon Chang-jung.

   South Korea, the United Nations and others are ready to help North Korea's development if the socialist nation shows a responsible attitude to the international community, Park added, lamenting that Pyongyang, however, is trying to take the opposite course.

   Park also held out the prospect of a better future for the North.

   "If North Korea chooses the right path, we will provide assistance and seek cooperation, and will use our maximum strength to help (North Korea) move forward on the path of co-prosperity," she said.

   On humanitarian assistance, however, Park renewed her commitment not to link aid for the impoverished North to security issues, a departure from her predecessor Lee Myung-bak, who insisted on liking any assistance to progress in disarming the North.

   "There are concerns about infants and other vulnerable people in North Korea, and I also believe that we need to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korean residents," she said. "Under the Korean Peninsula trust process, I intend to provide aid transparently regardless of political situations."

   During a meeting with South Korean residents in Washington, Park also said that the South "is always leaving the door open for dialogue" with the North.

   Park's tone was tougher in an interview with CBS television broadcast Monday.

   "Yes, we will make them pay," Park said in response to whether South Korea will respond militarily if North Korea launches small-scale attacks like the ones in 2010 that claimed the lives of 50 South Koreans.

   She also called for an end to rewarding North Korea's bad behavior.

   "North Korea engages in provocations, threats. This is followed by negotiations and assistance. And so, we saw an endless continuation of this vicious cycle, and it's time for us to put an end to that cycle," she said.

   Park said she wants to tell North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that the country "must change."

   "That is the only way for survival and the only way for development," she said.

   Park also said the North has such a weak rationale that it is resorting to personal attacks against her, such as the accusation that the "venomous swish" of her skirt is making South Korean officials engage in "warmongering."

   "In my view the various facts that they are not basing their comments on facts, but resorting to various ad hominem attacks, referring to my dress ... is a sign that they have a very weak rationale and their rationale is extremely weak, and so they feel very cornered," she said. "I think it's a telling sign of that."