By Sam Burgess, CNN • Updated 1st November 2016
After South Korea’s ruling party candidate Moon Jae-in on Wednesday reached out to North Korea’s leadership, not everyone is pleased.
Chief among those not backing Moon, who is going up against President Park Geun-hye in next week’s election, is North Korea.
Moon went back to his calling card during a meeting in Seoul Wednesday with Kim Hak-song, a North Korean envoy who visited Seoul last week for talks with the incumbent leader.
Earlier this year, Kim and other officials from the Workers’ Party of Korea met with Moon, the chief of the ruling Democratic Party, in May. The latter secured a promise from the North Korean leadership to agree to talks with Seoul following a nuclear test by the hermit state.
Moon urged Pyongyang to “open-heartedly meet” with the South over security issues, but offered no hint of a softening of stance.
“We want to continue the right to avoid war as long as it is calm and prosperous on the Korean Peninsula. That’s what we want to maintain, to strengthen our ability to protect each other’s lives,” Moon said during the meeting.
Son of former North Korean dictator
Underscoring Moon’s desire to be seen as a moderating force in the coming elections, he said that Seoul was willing to pay the equivalent of $25 million toward a joint North-South art festival scheduled to take place next year in the eastern port city of Daegu.
“North and South must act in a spirit of forgiveness and on an equal footing,” said Moon.
The Korean Peninsula is divided into a Demilitarized Zone that separates the two sides.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency took issue with Moon’s remarks.
The North Korean official news agency KCNA reacts to comments made by South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in on Wednesday.
“If we break down the differences between us, the basis of a resolution of the Korean Peninsula issues will be found,” said Kim.
“But all that can be accomplished at this time is verbal communications as the current administration doesn’t have firm will to put an end to hostility against the DPRK and the North Korea situation.”
Kim has previously compared Moon to his father, the late former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.