South considers cross-border toursThe South Korean Ministry of Unification is mulling whether to take North Korea’s offer on working-level talks to resume cross-border tours, the ministry’s spokesperson said yesterday.
The talks were requested by North Korea on Thursday. The proposed talks would be held in Kaesong on Nov. 19 to discuss restarting tours to the North’s Mount Kumgang resort.
“We feel it is inappropriate at this time to say if and when the talks will take place,” said a ministry spokesperson. The South Korean government has been adamant that the North Korean government take responsibility and fulfill three prerequisites before the tours are resumed.
Trips to the North have been stopped since 2008 when a tourist was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier. Tours to the North had been a lucrative business for Pyongyang before they came to a halt, and Seoul has said that tours could only be resumed if North Korea allows a thorough investigation into the shooting and promises that it will not happen again.
Meanwhile, the North’s official news agency said on Thursday that good things may come during the upcoming Red Cross talks between the two Koreas on Nov. 25 if the South Koreans take North Korea up on its offer. It also expressed regret over Seoul’s stalled decision on the offer of working talks on the resumption of Mount Kumgang tours.
North Korea had requested twice in October that the two parties hold working talks on the tourism issue.
By Christine Kim [firstname.lastname@example.org]