SEOUL, March 24 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's Unification Ministry said Monday that it will not lift the so-called May 24 sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) until Pyongyang takes responsible actions for the sinking of a South Korean warship four years ago.
Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do told a routine press briefing that the government"is not considering at all"whether to lift the May 24 sanctions, noting the DPRK has not taken any responsible actions for the sinking of the Cheonan warship.
On March 26, 2010, the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan sank in waters near a western maritime border with the DPRK in what a Seoul-led multinational investigation team said was a torpedo attack by Pyongyang.
The DPRK has repeatedly denied its involvement in the incident, in which 46 South Korean sailors aboard were killed.
South Korea has imposed the May 24 sanctions since that year, banning all inter-Korean economic and personnel exchanges with the exception of the joint factory park in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong.
Touching on the responsible action required, Kim said the DPRK should make acknowledgment and apology for the incident, adding that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on other measures required.
South Korea showed less strict stance toward the resumption of the long-suspended inter-Korean tourism project at the DPRK's Mount Kumgang.
The ministry said in an annual report titled"2014 White Paper on Unification" that it will continue to make efforts to resume the Mount Kumgang tour in a constructive manner, noting the personal safety of South Korean tourists should be guaranteed before the resumption.
The tour to Pyongyang's scenic mountain resort, launched in 1998, was halted in July 2008 when a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by a DPRK soldier for apparently venturing into an off-limit area.
Kim said that the tourism project was suspended by the assassination of the South Korean tourist, noting that the DPRK's responsible action will lead to South Korea's consideration of the resumption.
Seoul and Pyongyang originally planned to talk about normalizing the suspended tourism project in October last year, but the DPRK unilaterally announced its decision to put off such dialogue.
Tensions escalated on the Korean Peninsula after the DPRK launched a volley of short-range missiles and artillery shells in protest against the joint annual military exercises between South Korea and the United States.
The DPRK fired a total of 46 short-range rockets, possibly the FROG surface-to-surface missiles, over the weekend. On March 16, it launched 25 FROG missiles, which were introduced by the DPRK from the former Soviet Union in the 1960s.
The"Key Resolve"command post exercise, which began on Feb. 24, ended on March 6, but the"Foal Eagle"field training exercise will last until April 18 despite the DPRK's earlier call for delay or cancellation of the drills, which Pyongyang has denounced as the rehearsal for a northward invasion.