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South Korea Appeals to 'Friendly Countries' About N. Korean Tourist Killing


South Korea says North Korea's killing of a tourist from the South is unlikely to affect talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons. However, the South is seeking some degree of diplomatic leverage in getting the North to be forthcoming about an investigation of the fatal shooting. VOA's Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.

South Korea's chief negotiator in six-nation talks aimed at getting rid of North Korea's nuclear programs says the tourist killing at the North's Mount Kumgang resort will not knock the discussions off track.

Ambassador Kim Sook spoke to South Korea's PBC Radio, Thursday.

Kim describes the probe into the Mount Kumgang incident as a bilateral North-South issue. He calls it "rather dangerous" to confuse that issue with South Korean energy aid to the North provided in the context of the six-nation nuclear talks. He calls it "undesirable" to complicate matters by linking the two issues in any way.

North Korea says it shot 53-year-old Park Wang-ja Friday, after she wandered into a restricted military area, then tried to flee military personnel. The Mount Kumgang resort where she was vacationing was built in the North by a South Korean corporation, but is kept completely separate from surrounding areas.

The North has flatly refused South Korean requests to investigate the incident. So far, it has failed to provide the South any access to the site of the shooting or to share closed-circuit video footage from cameras running when the killing took place. North Korean officials have even refused to speak to counterparts in the South about the incident.

Now, South Korean Foreign Ministry Spokesman Moon Tae-young says Seoul is going international with its demands the North cooperate.

Moon says South Korea is discussing its demands for an investigation with what he calls "friendly countries," which he prefers not to name.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Myung-hwan is attending a major regional forum in Singapore, next week. Envoys from 20 nations, including delegates from Southeast Asian countries, the United States and the European Union, are also expected to participate.

Senior South Korean officials downplay media speculation that they are seeking international pressure on the North to cooperate. However, the fact that the Kumgang mountain killing is even expected to surface in next week's international context shows the issue has transcended the usually very private inter-Korean relationship.

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