South Korea on Monday urged the North to change course and cooperate to hold the reunions of separated families that had been scheduled for this week but were abruptly called off by Pyongyang last weekend.
The Unification Ministry also said the North’s decision effectively nullified Seoul’s proposal for talks on Oct. 2 on resuming tours to Mount Geumgangsan.
“North Korea should come forward to accept the family reunions as quickly as possible so that the families’ pain and wounds are healed,” ministry spokesman Kim Eyi-do told reporters.
|Civic activists protest North Korea’s postponement of reunions of separated families in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap News)|
Last Monday, the two Koreas traded lists of their respective 100 citizens to be reunited with their loved ones across the border at the scenic mountain resort on Sept. 25-30.
But the communist country on Saturday declared an indefinite postponement of what would have been the first reunions of families displaced by the Korean War in three years. It also put off planned talks on Oct. 2 for the tour project.
The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland accused Seoul of “abusing inter-Korean dialogue for fratricidal confrontation,” saying it would delay the event “until a normal atmosphere is formed where dialogue and negotiations can take place.”
Seoul called the decision “inhumane.”
“North Korea’s unilateral delay of family reunions cannot be justified by any explanation or excuse,” Kim added.
“It will likely face condemnation from our citizens and the international community for causing a huge disappointment and pain to the separated families.”
By Shin Hyon-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org