North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called this week’s accord between the rival Koreas “a landmark occasion” paving the way for defused military tension and improved ties, but said it was the strength of its armed forces that made the deal possible.
At the same time, he dismissed some members of the ruling party’s central military commission.
North and South Korea on Tuesday agreed to end a military stand-off that sparked an exchange of artillery fire and had ratcheted up tension on one of the world’s most heavily-fortified borders.
The two sides also agreed to open a new channel of dialogue to discuss a range of issues with the aim of improving ties, raising hopes for a fresh push to restore talks and exchanges that had been cut off since 2010.
“The joint press release published at the contact provided a crucial landmark occasion of defusing the acute military tension and putting the catastrophic inter-Korean relations on the track of reconciliation and trust,” the North’s KCNA news agency quoted Kim as saying in a meeting with military aides.
Kim said the accord was reached “thanks to the tremendous military muscle with the nuclear deterrent for self-defense built by the great party as a pivot and matchless ranks single-mindedly united around the party,” KCNA said.
The comments were made at a meeting of the Central Military Commission of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, the same forum led by Kim last week that warned of military action unless Seoul stopped its propaganda broadcasts.
On Friday, the South’s Unification Ministry said South Korea’s Red Cross had proposed, in a message sent to the North, to hold working-level talks in the border village of Panmunjom on Sept. 7 to discuss reunions of separated families.
Tuesday’s accord included a pact to hold the reunions of families split during the 1950-53 Korean War, many of whom are aging and hoping to see lost family members for the last time.
The dismissals of some members of the ruling party’s central military commission took place at an enlarged meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, according to KCNA.
It did not say when the meeting was held, but the communist nation is known to often report events a day after they take place.
The meeting “dismissed some members of the WPK Central Military Commission and appointed new ones and dealt with an organizational matter,” the KCNA said in an English dispatch, monitored in Seoul.
It did not elaborate on the reasons for the dismissals, but the report has prompted speculation in Seoul that it may be related to the Aug. 4 land mine explosion inside the Demilitarized Zone that maimed two South Korean soldiers.