North Korea has apparently rejected South Korea’s proposal to hold inter-Korean talks on pest control at ancient tombs located in the North.
The South Korean authorities have contacted the North’s land and environment protection office, the Office of Forestry, through a Red Cross channel on Tuesday, to suggest both authorities meet in late February.
However, Pyongyang’s China-based news website Uriminzokkiri, on Thursday said the South is not ready to hold a dialogue because it banned a civilian inter-Korean group meeting.
“South Korea has permanently lost qualification to talk about the improvement of North-South relations,” the North Korean website said.
“Blocking civilian inter-Korean contact under the name of an impossible dialogue between the authorities is an evil scheme to impede Koreans’ will to follow the spirit of June 15 (Joint Declaration),” it said.
The website was referring to the Ministry of Unification’s disapproval on Wednesday of the request by the South Side Committee for Implementing the June 15 Joint Declaration.
The civilian group had planned to meet the North Side Committee on Feb. 9-10 in Shenyang in China to discuss holding events to celebrate the 12th anniversary of June 15 Joint Declaration, which was adopted at the first inter-Korean summit in 2000.
Earlier in the week, Vice Unification Minister Kim Chun-sig met the South Side Committee head Kim Sang-geun and told him that issues involving the implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration should be resolved between the two Korean authorities, not between civilians.
Despite the government’s disapproval, the South Side Committee decided to go ahead with their original plan to meet North Koreans, said Lee Seung-hwan, co-chairperson of the South Side Committee at an airport ahead of departure on Thursday.
Under law, South Koreans who contact North Koreans without the government’s approval can be fined or face other punishment.
By Kim Yoon-mi (email@example.com