중앙데일리

North ‘regrets’ flash-flood deaths along Imjin River

South says action is an apology for the sudden release of water from dam   PLAY AUDIO

Oct 15,2009
Kim Nam-sik, right, director general of the Unification Ministry’s inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation bureau, talks to reporters after returning from inter-Korean talks in Kaesong yesterday. [YONHAP]
North Korea yesterday expressed “regrets” over the fatal flash flood of the Imjin River last month caused by the sudden discharge of water from a North Korean dam, and South Korea accepted that as an apology.

At the inter-Korean meeting on flood prevention of the Imjin held yesterday in Kaesong, the North Korean delegation said it regrets that “an unintentional incident” caused South Korean casualties and expressed deep condolences to the families of the six victims.

Kim Nam-sik, director general of the Unification Ministry’s inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation bureau and head of the South Korean delegation, said the North “officially expressed” its regrets and that sufficed as an apology.

“In a broader context, we take that as an apology from North Korea,” Kim explained.

Blue House spokesman Park Sun-kyoo also agreed that the North provided a sufficient answer to the South’s demand.

“North Korea showed its willingness to improve relations with us,” he added.

On Sept. 6, six South Korean campers were swept to their deaths as water surged along the Imjin, which originates in the North and flows into the Han River south of the border.

Seoul demanded an apology, but Pyongyang, which acknowledged it had released water from one of its dams, only replied that it would provide prior warnings for such discharges in the future.

This was the first inter-Korean government-level meeting in three months. It came about after the North on Tuesday accepted the South’s proposals made on Monday. The morning session took place from 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m., and the afternoon meeting began at 2:30 p.m. and lasted 15 minutes.

The three-member South Korean delegation was led by Kim and also included an official from the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs in Seoul. The North Korean delegation was headed by Ri Yong-ho, chief of the National Economic Cooperation Federation.

According to Kim, in the morning session the South Korean delegation demanded North Korea’s “proper explanation and apology” for the Imjin flood and proposed measures to prevent flooding of rivers that flow across the border. The North responded that releasing dam water was unavoidable at the time.

“They said a relevant agency was forced to release the dam water quickly in order to prevent a bigger disaster,” Kim said. “But they didn’t elaborate on what such a larger disaster would have meant, and we didn’t press further.”

A senior official at the ministry said while the North’s comments fell short of the thorough explanation that the South had been seeking, “they still gave us their account of the situation.”

Kim said that during the brief afternoon session, the two sides discussed technical issues regarding flood prevention and prior warnings before the North’s dam discharge and added the Koreas quickly agreed to have further consultations on these matters.

Kim explained that the two Koreas didn’t set a date for a future meeting but they will exchange official documents through Panmunjom to determine the time and the place for the next round of talks.

Tomorrow, Red Cross representatives from the two Koreas are scheduled to meet in Kaesong to discuss future reunions of separated families and other humanitarian issues.


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]




dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장