SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Elizabeth Shim) — The agreement between North and South Korea to defuse tensions has been welcomed on both sides – but Pyongyang’s official narrative indicated it held a different view from Seoul on the recent skirmishes.
Hwang Pyong So, director of the general political bureau of North Korea’s military said on state television Tuesday that South Korea had learned a “serious lesson” on creating provocations without cause, Yonhap reported.
“The South Korean authorities had no choice but to learn a serious lesson after the North-South high-level talks,” Hwang said for his North Korean audience.
“[They learned] the unilateral fabrication of an incident, a unilateral judgment of the incident and actions taken unilaterally can only aggravate [North Korea], which only makes the situation more tense and leads to military conflict.”
Hwang, however, said the outcome had positive implications for North Korea and that he believed it was “fortunate…that North and South through joint effort was able to create a new atmosphere of improved relations.”
In Seoul, South Koreans expressed relief but also skepticism about the North’s latest “regret” over the land mine blasts in the DMZ, The Korea Herald reported.
“I was worried about the possible breakout of war, but I am so relieved that the two Koreas struck a deal,” said 26-year-old South Korean student Nam Bo-ra.
Others weren’t so sure, including a 54-year-old South Korean office worker who said North Korea’s provocations occur in a “vicious cycle” that falls short of a more permanent peace on the peninsula.
South Korea’s stock indexes responded positively to the news and the country’s main stock index KOSPI rallied for the first time in seven business days, ending up 0.92 percent, Yonhap reported.
The North’s agreement to end its declaration of a “quasi-state of war” however did not mean South Korea has ceased monitoring the front lines, Newsis reported.
One South Korean Defense Ministry official said the military remains on “highest alert” until there is a more definitive sign the North has pulled away from positions north of the DMZ. Typhoon Goni was affecting long-range visibility, the official said.