[JURIST] South Korea on Monday offered to resume high-level talks with North Korea, after stalled communication between the two countries resulted from the United States’ placement of blame on North Korea for a recent cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment [official website]. This event has lead to increased diplomatic tensions [Reuters report] between North and South Korea, but the South wishes for the resumed communication to result in “peaceful unification” with the North. In its letter to Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the South asked the North to begin peaceful negotiations beginning in January. The North accepted the letter, but South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae [official website] told a news briefing that the North has not yet responded to it.
North Korea has in the past viewed the South’s attempts for unification as an attempt [BBC report] by the South to take over the North. Communication between the two countries stalled in from February until October, until officials from the North visited [BBC news timeline] the South unannounced. In February UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Marzuki Darusman [official website] and a group of independent human rights experts announced their support [JURIST report] for an international inquiry [UN News Centre report] into human rights violations in North Korea to bring awareness to the country’s system of political prison camps. In 2011 Darusman criticized [JURIST report] North Korea’s human rights record after speaking to North Korean refugees in South Korea, after which he became convinced that 200,000 political prisoners were being abused [Amnesty International press release] in forced labor camps.