North Korea has denied expressing an apology for the recent mine explosion as the country has warned its neighbour, South Korea not to jeopardise the hard-won inter-Korean deal. Pyongyang also threatened Seoul not to make provocative remarks so as to avoid further confrontation.
Exhorting the South to be "discreet in words and deeds", the North said the accord cannot be portrayed as a victory of one side alone. This is the first such explicit denial from the North Korean side since the surprised temporary deal -- which took place after three-days of intense inter-Korean talks -- was agreed upon easing tensions.
Pyongyang's National Defence Commission, which insisted "regret" does not equate to an "apology", said in a statement: "This kind of interpretation is the result of ignorance on the meaning of a Korean word and its concept. South Korea must not forget for an instant that a misjudgment on the other side would trigger fatal consequences on North-South relations. Nothing can be cruder and unhandsomer than describing as one side's unilateral victory a joint statement that North and South Korea agreed upon."
The unidentified spokesperson of the Commission further added: "South Korea should refrain from making remarks that could dampen inter-Korean relations. If South Korea leaves this situation as it is, inter-Korean relations could return to confrontation."
The deal between the two Koreas was reached when they were on the verge of a fully-blown conflict. The situation eased when Pyongyang expressed "regret" for the landmine explosion at the demilitarised zone (DMZ) which maimed two South Korean military personnel.
Responding to North's latest statement, South Korea's unification ministry spokesperson Jeong Joon-hee told reporters, "Now is not the time to argue for and against, but it is the time that the two Koreas should jointly make sincere efforts to implement the agreement."