South offers timetable for North tourism talks

Home > National > Politics

print dictionary print

South offers timetable for North tourism talks

South Korea’s unification minister sent a message yesterday to his North Korean counterpart proposing a new date and venue for negotiations on resuming stalled tourism programs that allowed locals to visit the reclusive communist country, an apparent attempt to gain more control over the tenuous relations between the two nations.

The Unification Ministry said yesterday that Minister Hyun In-taek’s message was addressed to Kim Yang-gon, the director of the Unification Front Department of North Korea’s Workers’ Party.

Hyun proposed the idea of holding a working-level meeting on the issue on Feb. 8 in Kaesong, which is located just across the border in the North.

The message served as a reply to the North’s earlier proposal to meet this week to discuss the fate of the tourism programs, which ran for about 10 years but ended in 2008.

The North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, a nongovernmental organ overseeing inter-Korean cooperation projects, proposed earlier this month that the two Koreas meet at the Mount Kumgang resort in the North today and tomorrow.

Kim, the North’s key South Korea policy maker, also chairs the committee, which previously oversaw the tourism project along with the South’s Hyundai Asan.

“Although Kim also heads the committee, we decided it was more appropriate to send the message to the director of the Unification Front Department of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, because he is in charge of inter-Korean relations under that official title,” said Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung.

Tours to Mount Kumgang ended in July 2008 when a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean solider. In December of that year, tours to Kaesong were also shut down.

Seoul has maintained its position that the death of the tourist must be investigated thoroughly by South Korean authorities in order to resume the travel programs. Seoul also demanded that Pyongyang establish safety measures for tourists through inter-Korean talks.

While the North proposed discussing the stalled tour programs through civilian channels, the South apparently wanted to have government-to-government negotiations on the matter. By naming Kim as the recipient of Hyun’s message, Seoul is signaling to Pyongyang that the two are the chief negotiation partners.

The officials met in Seoul last August, when Kim visited the city as North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s delegate to express condolences over former President Kim Dae-jung’s death.

If the North accepts the offer to join discussions on the tour program, a series of inter-Korean talks will take place next month.

The two Koreas had already agreed to meet on Feb. 1 to discuss pending issues related to the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint business area in the North where many companies from the South have operations.

Last week, the North’s military also proposed a round of working-level negotiations this week related to the Kaesong complex.

But the South’s Defense Ministry said yesterday it wants to defer the date to February. “It will be effective to have the talks after the Feb. 1 Kaesong discussion,” the ministry told the North in the message. “We will send you the new date at an appropriate time.”

Seoul also informed Pyongyang yesterday about its plan to send 10,000 tons of corn to the North.

“We informed the North that the corn aid will be sent from China’s Dalian to the North’s Chongjin,” Chun said. “We told them it will take at least 40 days to purchase, pack and ship the corn.”

Seoul made the offer to provide food aid in October last year, but Pyongyang was reluctant to accept it. On Jan. 15, the North finally said it gave the green light to the aid shipment.

By Ser Myo-ja []
Related Korean Article

`설 전에 개최하자`..군사실무회담도 미루기로

정부는 개성.금강산 관광 재개를 위한 실무접촉(26∼27일)을 갖자는 북한의 제안과 관련, '내달 이후 설 전에 개최하자'는 내용의 수정 제안을 25일중 할 방침이다.

정부 소식통들은 개성.금강산 관광 관련 실무접촉을 개성공단 실무회담이 잡혀 있는 2월1일 이후와 설 전에 개최하는 방안을 북측에 제안할 방침이라고 전했다.

정부는 이날 중 우리 측이 희망하는 개성.금강산 관광 관련 접촉 일정을 명시한 대북 전통문을 북에 발송할 예정이다.

이와 함께 정부는 26일 개성공단 '3통(통행.통관.통신)' 협의를 위한 군사실무회담을 갖자는 북한의 제의에 대해서도 2월1일 개성공단 실무회담 후에 논의하자는 취지의 답신을 할 것으로 알려졌다

  • 한글 원문 기사 보기
  • More in Politics

    Lawmaker forfeits PPP membership amid corruption allegations

    Moon's UN speech falls flat

    Moon proposes formally ending Korean War in keynote UN speech

    Prosecutors raid homes of Choo's son and others implicated in scandal

    Moon talks up Korea's Covid response in UN address

    Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
    with the Korea JoongAng Daily
    help-image Social comment?
    lock icon

    To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

    Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

    What’s Popular Now