Summary of inter-Korean news this week

SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) — The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

N. Korea-linked hackers attempt to break into emails of Seoul’s defense panel members

SEOUL, Sept. 12 (Yonhap) — A hacker group believed to be linked to North Korea has attempted to steal data from South Korean experts working as members of an advisory panel for the defense ministry, a cybersecurity firm said Sunday.

Emails were sent to some members of the advisory panel earlier this month from hackers who disguised themselves as a North Korea-related department of the defense ministry, notifying them of an upcoming seminar on the occasion of the anniversary of a 2018 inter-Korean military agreement, according to ESTsecurity.

A few days later, another email was sent, asking the panel members to open attached papers written for the event. It had some disguised images on the attachments that appeared to be official government documents, according to ESTsecurity.

All municipalities designated as ‘independent operators’ of aid projects for N.K.: unification ministry

SEOUL, Sept. 14 (Yonhap) — All municipalities of South Korea will be allowed to pursue humanitarian aid projects for North Korea on their own, the unification ministry said Tuesday, as Seoul wants to increase cross-border exchanges despite stalled inter-Korean relations.

Under the revised rules on cross-border exchanges that went into effect Tuesday, a total of 243 municipal governments have been automatically designated as “independent operators” for projects of providing assistance to North Korea, according to the ministry.

Local governments previously had to work with private entities to provide aid to the North, but the government revised relevant rules in 2019 to allow them to engage in such activities on their own if they get state approval in advance.

Unification ministry vows efforts for resumption of inter-Korean liaison office as it marks 3rd anniversary

SEOUL, Sept. 14 (Yonhap) — The unification ministry said it will continue efforts to resume operations of the inter-Korean liaison office as it marked the third anniversary of the office, an official said Tuesday.

This year’s anniversary comes as the North blew up the liaison office building in June last year in anger over the sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets by activists in the South.

The North also remains unresponsive to calls from South Korea via liaison and military hotlines after they were restored late July following a yearlong severance.

S. Korea succeeds in testing ballistic missile launch from submarine: Cheong Wa Dae

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) — South Korea has become the world’s seventh country with an indigenous submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), as it succeeded in an underwater test-launch from a submarine, Cheong Wa Dae announced Wednesday.

President Moon Jae-in inspected the firing at a local test center of the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), hours after North Korea lobbed two ballistic missiles into the East Sea.

The SLBM was fired from the 3,000-ton-class Dosan Ahn Chang-ho submarine at the ADD Anheung Test Center in South Chungcheong Province.

Moon says S. Korea’s SLBM development can be deterrent to N. Korean provocation: Cheong Wa Dae

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) — President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday that South Korea’s upgrading of its missile capabilities can help deter North Korean provocation.

He was speaking to officials at the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) following the successful underwater test-launch of an indigenous submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) at a local test site.

Hours earlier, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the East Sea.

Cheong Wa Dae: no comment on N. Korea’s criticism of President Moon

SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) — The office of President Moon Jae-in said Thursday it would not respond formally to North Korea’s direct condemnation of Moon over what it describes as “improper” and “stupid” remarks.

Cheong Wa Dae is apparently seeking to prevent inter-Korean tensions from escalating especially in advance of Moon’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly next week, which is widely expected to include Seoul’s unswerving commitment to the peace process. Cheong Wa Dae has attached a special meaning to the 30th anniversary this year of the two Koreas becoming members of the U.N. simultaneously.

Regarding the latest statement issued by Kim Yo-jong, sister of the North’s leader Kim Jong-un, a Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters, “(We) will not make any mention (of the issue).”