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South Korea asks UN to verify North’s nuclear site shutdown

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (L). ( File photo by AFP)

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has asked the United Nations (UN) to help verify the shutdown of a North Korean nuclear power plant.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Tuesday that Moon had made the request in a phone call with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the same day.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly said he would “transparently guarantee” the dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and invite US experts as monitors.

Meanwhile, a recent poll suggests that a Friday summit between Moon and Kim has restored trust on the part of the South Korean people toward the North.

Public opinion consultancy institute Realmeter said on Monday that a survey taken on Friday showed that 64.7 percent of the respondents believed the North would denuclearize, while before the summit, only 14.7 percent of those polled believed that Pyongyang would agree to denuclearize.

Media reports said South Koreans were surprised to see Kim smiling and joking at the summit, an indication of how the media had often depicted an artificial image of the North Korean leader.

At one point during the summit, Kim humorously promised Moon not to wake him up any more with early morning missile launches.

According to Reuters, people in Seoul said Kim seemed markedly different from former North Korean leaders, namely his father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung.

“Denuclearizing is definitely possible,” said 41-year-old Kim Jin-han. North Korea’s present leader “is very different from the previous leaders. So I think he is ready to wholly give up nuclear weapons.”

In related news, South Korea’s Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that it observed signs that North Korea had started dismantling loudspeakers used to send public messages across the border.

Earlier, Seoul had stopped broadcasting its own propaganda messages into North Korea through giant loudspeakers.

For decades, the two Koreas had been using huge banks of speakers set up on the heavily-armed border as a form of psychological warfare.

Pyongyang and Seoul began mending fences in January, when Kim said he would be interested in talks being held between officials from the two countries. A series of overtures ensued, culminating in the Friday summit.

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