SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea said Monday it hopes a US move to drop North Korea from a terror blacklist will warm Seoul's chilly ties with the communist state, but conservative media slammed the move as "unprincipled." Unification ministry spokesman Kim Ho-Nyoun said South Korea is considering a shift in policy, including on the issue of providing food and steel. Inter-Korean ties, which are handled by the ministry, have been frigid since conservative President Lee Myung-Bak took office here in February and promised to take a firmer line with the hardline North. "We hope that (removing the North from the blacklist) will have a positive impact on improving relations between South and North Korea," Kim told reporters. Despite acute shortages the North has not asked the South for its customary food shipment this year. Steel shipments " part of the international aid promised to the North in return for a nuclear shutdown " were delayed because a six-nation disarmament pact seemed in danger of disintegrating. North Korea said Sunday it would resume disabling its plutonium-producing nuclear plants and readmit UN inspectors in response to the US concession. The North had begun work to reactivate the plants, which were closed last year, because of a dispute over "verification" inspections and the country's continued inclusion on a US list of states that sponsor terrorism. The US State Department announced Saturday that a deal had been reached on the inspections and North Korea would be taken off the list. It said the North agreed to verification of all of its nuclear activities, including an alleged covert highly enriched uranium programme and suspected proliferation. However, visits to sites not included in the North's nuclear declaration delivered in June will require "mutual consent." That declaration dealt directly only with the admitted plutonium-producing operation based at Yongbyon. However, conservative media commentators were scathing. "This is an unprincipled concession made by the Bush administration which is desperate for a diplomatic achievement in its final days," the largest-selling newspaper Chosun Ilbo wrote, highlighting the consent issue. It said agreements at six-party negotiations, involving the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, China and Japan, had made it clear that suspicious sites should be subject to inspection along with declared locations. Dong-A Ilbo noted that the North was put on the terror list in 1988 after its agents were implicated in the blowing-up of a South Korean aircraft with 115 people aboard the previous year. "Considering the grief of the victims' families, Washington's decision to delist Pyongyang is hard to accept," it said. The paper said that Pyongyang had not honoured its promise of an accurate declaration and complete verification. "On the contrary, verification could grow more complicated as inspection of nuclear facilities is now possible only with the North's consent." Many critics in South Korea and Japan "rightly argue that only North Korea will gain from the latest deal," it said. JoongAng Ilbo was equally scathing, accusing the Bush administration of "unprincipled" negotiations. It acknowledged Washington did not want its achievements so far going to waste. "Even so, backing off after having firmly proclaimed that it would not remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism unless all of North Korea's nuclear facilities were thoroughly verified is the result of a lack of strategy," the paper said. "There are many who are surprised by how the United States repeatedly concedes to North Korea in negotiations," it added.