North Korea Strikes Down Laws on Economic Cooperation With South

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(Bloomberg) -- North Korea’s parliament abolished laws for economic cooperation with South Korea, driving a wedge deeper between the neighbors after leader Kim Jong Un started the year by saying it was impossible to seek peaceful reunification.

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The move was announced Thursday by Pyongyang’s official media. While North Korea’s regime operates on the whims of Kim, the laws had provided a more formal basis for the operation of a mountain resort and factory park north of the border. Both projects — once seen as models of future cooperation — have been shuttered for years due to political rancor.

An official at South Korea’s Unification Ministry said the move would only isolate North Korea further, adding that Seoul had no imminent plans to respond, Yonhap News agency reported.

South Korea’s so-called “peace” stocks, which are expected to benefit from improved inter-Korean ties, moved little on the announcement by North Korea.

Last month, North Korea demolished a large monument in Pyongyang that symbolized the hope of reunification after leader Kim began 2024 by branding South Korea as his “principal enemy” and testing new weapons designed to deliver nuclear strikes.

Kim’s dismantling of the symbols of unification and government offices dedicated to that task has put pressure on conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who has taken a hard line against Pyongyang and angered Kim’s regime by stepping up military cooperation with the US and Japan.

By harshly criticizing the policies of the Yoon administration, Kim may be trying to influence upcoming parliamentary elections in South Korea in which the progressive camp that embraces warmer ties with Pyongyang is looking to keep control of the body.

Read more: Kim Jong Un’s Russia Lifeline Gives Big Reason to Avoid War

Trade between the two Koreas has dropped to virtually zero from $2.7 billion in 2015, or about 10% of North Korea’s economy. Pyongyang has turned to cybercrime and the illicit transfer of goods on the high seas to earn cash, according to reports from the United Nations Security Council.

Kim’s regime has also transfered munitions to Russia to help President Vladimir Putin with his war on Ukraine, the US and South Korea have said. North Korea and Russia have denied the claims.

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