Kim Jong-un blasts delays in North Korean economic progress

Arturo Kim
July 19, 2018

"Additionally, both sides agreed to re-commence field operations in the DPRK to search for the estimated 5,300 Americans who never returned home".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled the plan for talks after visiting Pyongyang this month, touting it as one of key issues on which the two sides had made progress, though the North accused his delegation of making "gangster-like" demands in connection with denuclearisation during the trip.

On June 29, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Senate Appropriations Committee that the USA expected to receive remains "in the not-too-distant future" but "we have not yet physically received them". Gen. Michael Minihan, the UNC's chief of staff, represented the American delegation.

The amnesty, which will take effect on August 1, will be granted to those who were convicted of crimes against the state and its people, the Korean Central News Agency said.

Since taking power when his dictator father Kim Jong Il died in late 2011, Kim, 34, has promised to boost living standards and sought to project an image of youth and modernity while pushing hard to build up North Korea's nuclear capabilities.

But efforts to recover and return other remains stalled for more than a decade because of the North's nuclear weapons development, which led the claim that it could not guarantee the safety of recovery teams it sent during the administration of former President George W. Bush. The war killed millions, including 36,000 American soldiers.

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North Korea plans to implement a general amnesty next month before celebrating its 70th founding anniversary on September 9, Pyongyang's media said Monday.

North Korea and the United States conducted joint operations to recover the remains of USA soldiers from 1996 to 2005 but their relations soured as Pyongyang accelerated its nuclear program.

In this undated photo provided on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, inspects the construction site of a hydroelectric power plant in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea. More than 36,000 USA service members died in the conflict.

According to a report in ABC News, a planned meeting between the two nations, scheduled to have taken place on Thursday, has been postponed on North Korea's request.

"Kim is probably hinting at changing his policy after confirming North Korea's economy has lots of problems during his inspection tours", said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul's Dongguk University. Prior to this, North Korea had failed to participate in a working-level discussion that was supposed to be held on July 12 to discuss returning the remains.

The developments fueled skepticism over North Korea's commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as promised during last month's meeting between Trump and Kim in Singapore.

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