The News Minute | March 16, 2015 | 4:30 pm IST
South Korea's new Minister of Unification Hong Yong-pyo said on Monday that he will seek more effective methods of communication with North Korea as relations between the two countries deteriorated, Efe news agency reported.
"I am never going to miss an opportunity for dialogue," said Hong in his inaugural speech.
"Dialogue, exchange and cooperation with North Korea is one of the important tasks for me and the unification ministry," he added.
Hong, a specialist in North Korean issues, said that his government would be flexible in its efforts to repair bilateral ties.
However, he clarified that South Korea would react harshly to misconduct by the North, consistent with the policy of the administration of President Park Geun-hye.
In a more conciliatory tone, Hong also gave support to the two Koreas making joint preparations for reunification.
This reflects Pyongyang's outspoken criticism of a senior Seoul official suggesting that reunification could be undertaken without North Korean participation.
The new unification minister's speech comes at a time of broken relations with the North and military tension between the two nations following joint US-South Korean military drills on South Korean territory earlier this month.
Kim Jong-un's regime considers these drills as preparations for an invasion of the North and has responded with threats and two tests launching multiple missiles into the sea, most recently last Friday.
North and South Korea remain technically at war since the Korean War (1950-53), which concluded with an armistice instead of a definitive peace treaty.