SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country would no longer pursue reconciliation with South Korea and called for rewriting the North's constitution to eliminate the idea of shared statehood between the war-divided countries, state media said Tuesday.
The historic step to discard a decades-long pursuit of a peaceful unification, which was based on a sense of national homogeneity shared by both Koreas, comes amid heightened tensions where the pace of both Kim's weapons development and the South's military exercises with the United States have intensified in a tit-for-tat.
During his speech, Kim blamed South Korea and the United States for raising tensions in the region, citing their expanded joint military exercises, deployments of U.S. strategic military assets, and their trilateral security cooperation with Japan as turning the Korean Peninsula into a dangerous war-risk zone, KCNA said. Kim said it has become impossible for the North to pursue reconciliation and a peaceful reunification with the South, which he described as "top-class stooges" of outside powers that are obsessed with confrontational maneuvers.
He called for the assembly to rewrite the North's constitution to define South Korea as the North's "primary foe and invariable principal enemy." The new constitution should specify North Korea would pursue "occupying, subjugating and reclaiming" South Korea as part of the North's territory if another war erupts on the Korean Peninsula, Kim said.
Removal of past symbols
He also ordered the removal of past symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation, to "completely eliminate such concepts as 'reunification,' 'reconciliation' and 'fellow countrymen' from the national history of our republic."
He specifically demanded cutting off cross-border railway sections and tearing down a monument in Pyongyang honoring a pursuit for reunification, which Kim described as an eyesore.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol during a Cabinet meeting in Seoul said Kim's comments show the "anti-national and anti-historical" nature of the government in Pyongyang. Yoon said the South was maintaining firm defense readiness and would punish the North "multiple times hard" if it provokes it.
In his speech at the assembly, Kim reiterated that the North has no intention to unilaterally start a war, but has no intentions to avoid one either.
Citing his growing military nuclear program, he said a nuclear conflict in the Korean Peninsula would end South Korea's existence and bring "unimaginable disaster and defeat to the United States."