26 February 2024

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South Korea’s President Yoon Addresses North Korea’s Military Cooperation

The president of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol declared on Wednesday that any effort to work with North Korea on military matters in a way that jeopardises world peace must end right away.

Yoon made the remark during a conference with the ASEAN bloc nations of Southeast Asia in Jakarta, Indonesia, according to his office.

The office did not go into further detail, but his remark coincides with news that North Korea and Russia are actively moving forward with their armament talks, and that Kim Jong Un, the leader of the North, is shortly planning a trip to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin.

At a conference with the leaders of the countries of ASEAN, Yoon was cited as stating, “Attempts at military cooperation with North Korea that harms international peace must immediately cease.”

Russia and North Korea have denied engaging in armed forces talks.

President Yoon is Warning Amid North Korea-Russia Armament Talks

According to a story this week in the New York Times, Kim will go to Vladivostok, a port city in far-eastern Russia, later this month to discuss providing Moscow with weaponry for the conflict in Ukraine.

Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s minister of defence, announced previously that the two countries planned to hold joint military drills.

Yoon said South Korea is going to work together with its two Asian neighbours with the aim of restarting their three-way talks on enhancing relations at an after summit with ASEAN leaders, in addition to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese Premier Li Qiang.

Tensions, mostly related to Japan’s involvement in past wars, have prevented the three countries from holding their annual meeting since 2019.

Yoon encouraged vigilance to prevent North Korea from funding its nuclear and missile projects through illegal means, such as by sending employees abroad to earn foreign currency.

China supported a 2017 U.N. Security Council resolution requiring all U.N. member nations to send back all North Korean workers and abstain from hiring them again.

With more rail crossings and the restart of flights with China, North Korea, which maintained severe border controls throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, has been slowly reopening in recent weeks.

Prior to the outbreak, China was the country that employed the most North Koreans overseas, with up to half of the estimated 100,000 individuals earning more than $500 million annually.