South Korean officials are warning that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s abrupt cancellation of a planned visit to North Korea is having an impact on South Korea’s own plans for Inter-Korean relations, including a plan to open a Liaison Office in North Korea by the end of the month.
Officials are being very vague with specifics, but say the previous plan was a “smooth series of schedules” starting with Pompeo’s visit, the office, and then another summit in Pyongyang. Pompeo’s cancellation forces them to reconsider the matter.
This comes amid reports that South Korea is increasingly unhappy with the way the Trump Administration is handling North Korea, and that President Moon Jae-in wants to forge his own path to peace with the north.
South Korean officials have downplayed the Liaison Office’s significance, saying it is intended to facilitate South Korea’s industrial park within the north. The US, however, is seen as opposed to the office, and the State Department has confirmed they’re looking into whether the office might “violate” US sanctions.
The “violation” centers on the fact that the office would have electricity and functioning heat. Some are suggesting that US energy sanctions, and a blockade on processed oil would preclude the office being able to have electricity, or functioning heating oil.