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North Korea? Don't call us that, Japan told

AFP, The Straits Times, 26 July 2000

It wants to be called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and by using the shorter version, the Japanese are insulting Pyongyang.

TOKYO—North Korea’s official mouthpiece savaged Japan yesterday for calling it North Korea instead of using the full term Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Future negotiations would be threatened if Japan failed to halt the practice, said the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

It is only the Japanese authorities and media that continue to call our country North Korea, quite contrary to the common practice and the trend of the times, it said.

This is unpardonable as it is an insult to our state and people, it added.

The DPRK is the sacred name of the sovereign country recognised by the world.

KCNA itself refers to South Korea, whose official name is Republic of Korea, as South Korea.

The foreign ministers of Japan and North Korea are to hold a first-ever meeting today in Bangkok as the long-standing foes struggle to establish diplomatic ties.

But the North Koreans warned that Japan’s attitude risked poisoning the talks.

The Japanese authorities are well advised to drop their rude behaviour if they do not want to see the atmosphere of the hard-won dialogue spoiled, it said.

The Japanese government should bear in mind that it will be entirely to blame for the consequences entailed by its practice of improperly calling our country.

Talks had been progressing in earnest, it said.

But this behaviour of the Japanese authorities shunning the recognition of their dialogue partner as a state makes us doubt whether they are truly willing to improve relations with the DPRK through dialogue.

In April, Japan and North Korea held talks in Pyongyang and agreed to have a second round of talks in Tokyo in May, but they will now be held in August.

Japan wants assurances about North Korea’s missile programme after Pyongyang lobbed a test ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean in August 1998.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the North had pledged to give up its own missile programme if given access to other countries’ rockets for space research.

We think that Russia’s efforts in this alone are not enough. Everyone, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, South Korea, as well as the United States, China and Japan should support this process, he said, referring to a move to ensure that North Korea gets rocket boosters that could be put to peaceful use.

Japan has also accused North Korean agents of kidnapping 10 Japanese nationals since the 1960s. North Korea has in turn demanded compensation and an apology for Japan’s harsh 1910-1945 colonial rule.