South Korea Says North ‘Distorting’ Facts With Slander Proposal

North Korea is “distorting” the reality of inter-Korean relations by proposing the two countries simultaneously stop slandering each other, because the South isn’t engaged in such activities, a South Korean official said.

“It is North Korea that has continued slander” against South Korea, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui Do told reporters at a briefing today, expressing regret over the North Korean statement issued last night through the official Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea’s National Defense Commission, led by Kim Jong Un, proposed the two sides stop slandering each other beginning on Jan. 30, the day before the lunar New Year holiday. The commission also called for South Korea to halt joint military exercises planned with the U.S. and said if the demands were met, North Korea could support South Korean President Park Geun Hye’s Jan. 6 call to resume reunions of families separated by the Korean War.

South Korea will not cancel the military drills with the U.S., which are defensive in nature, Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok said at a separate briefing.

The annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills between the allies, which the North calls a precursor to invasion, normally take place between late February and April.

The U.S. maintains more than 28,000 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that technically continues to this day because it ended in a truce and without a peace treaty. The North says it is developing nuclear arms as a way to deter an attack by the U.S. It conducted its third nuclear test in February last year.

“If North Korea indeed seeks peace on the Korean peninsula, it must immediately take substantive actions toward denuclearization,” Unification Ministry spokesman Kim said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Kim in Seoul at skim609@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net

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