Meeting on Mt. Kumgang tourism setThe two Koreas will meet next Monday to discuss resumption of suspended tourism to the Mount Kumgang resort north of the border. It’s not clear, however, just who will represent each side. The Unification Ministry in Seoul announced yesterday the North sent a dispatch agreeing to the South’s earlier proposal to hold talks on Mount Kumgang on Feb. 8. On Jan. 14, the North first suggested that the two sides meet for the discussions on Jan. 26 at Mount Kumgang.
But on Jan. 25, the South countered the offer and said they should instead meet on Feb. 8 in Kaesong, just north of the border.
Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said the dispatch, written by the North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, said that the committee would send three representatives to the talks.
The committee is a nongovernmental body that handles inter-Korean cooperation projects, though the North has said it is “an authoritative organ that represents the Workers’ Party and the government.”
In response, the ministry wrote to the United Front Department of the ruling Workers’ Party that it wanted “a responsible government official” as the head of the North’s delegation to discuss safety assurances for South Korean travelers, Chun said.
The Mount Kumgang tours were suspended in July 2008 when a South Korean female tourist was shot to death by a North Korean soldier after entering a restricted military zone. The South has since demanded that the North guarantee the safety of South Koreans and prevent a recurrence of the incident. “The basic stance of our government is that all final discussions on assuring safety for our citizens at Mount Kumgang must be done at the government level,” Chun explained. “It would be inappropriate to mention what we feel would be the responsible delegation from the North.”
By Yoo Jee-ho [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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