Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho on Wednesday condemned some liberal South Koreans supportive of North Korea's war rhetoric for having an "anti-state" mindset that could undermine the foundation of the South.
The minister made the remark at the start of a screening session of "Beyond Utopia," a US documentary film depicting North Korean defectors' desperate escape from their home country.
Citing a news report that some liberal experts said during a forum at the National Assembly last week that they can accept North Korea's perspective of war for the purpose of peace, Kim criticized them for following North Korea's propaganda.
"Their remarks made in the name of academic freedom carries an anti-state view that undermines the achievements and identity of the Republic of Korea. This cannot be tolerable," he said.
At the latest parliamentary meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for revising the country's constitution to define South Korea as its "primary foe" and to codify a commitment to "completely occupying" South Korean territory in the event of war.
The minister also condemned North Korea's bellicose rhetoric and its latest weapons tests as an "act of political provocation" designed to drive a wedge in South Korean society.
"Our people and the government should be united in realizing North Korea's true nature and repelling the North's deception and propaganda tactics," Kim said.
Meanwhile, after watching the documentary, the minister said in a meeting with around 200 young people that North Korea has been squandering scarce resources on weapons development while turning a blind eye to its people's livelihoods.
The film, directed by Madeleine Gavin, features an arduous journey by North Korean defector families who risked their lives to escape the repressive regime before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and related rescue efforts by South Korean pastor Kim Sung-eun. It hit local cinemas Wednesday.
"The issue of North Korea's human rights cannot be separated from the country's nuclear and missile problem," he said.
Pastor Kim, a human rights advocate who has rescued more than 1,000 North Korean defectors over the past 23 years, called for attention to North Korea's grave human rights violations.
"North Korea has touted itself as the world's best country, but more than 34,000 North Koreans have risked their lives to escape that nation and defect to South Korea," he said.
"I hope this film could give you a chance to realize how precious our freedom is and why we need to protect it. Also I want you to share the pain of North Korean defectors," the pastor added. (Yonhap)