Accessibility links

North Korea Accuses South of Provocation After Failed Kaesong Meeting


North Korea is accusing South Korea of moving a marker along the two countries' tense border, a day after the two sides held failed talks in the North Korean city of Kaesong. The North used those talks to demand more money from the South.

South Korea is denying North Korean accusations, Wednesday, that the South's forces moved a border marker along the line dividing the peninsula.

'Vicious' act

Pyongyang accuses the South of edging a specific marker closer to North Korea. The North's official news agency describes the move as a "vicious criminal act" that risks whipping the North's army "into a great fury." South Korean military officials say the accusation is groundless.

Tensions between the two Koreas remain high, a day after an attempt to hold talks produced just 22 minutes of dialogue. North and South Korean delegates spent most of Tuesday arguing about where to meet and a basic agenda in the North Korean city, Kaesong.

For more than three weeks, North Korean authorities have detained a South Korean executive who helps manage a joint industrial zone once hailed as a model of inter-Korean cooperation. Tuesday's meeting failed to produce progress on his release. North Korea used the meeting to demand new contracts, under which South Korean companies in the zone would pay more to the North for the use of its labor force.

Kaesong businesses in difficult position

Yoo Chang-Geun is vice chairman of the Kaesong Industrial Council, which represents businesses investing in the zone. He says the demand puts Kaesong businesses in a difficult position.

Yoo says demanding higher wages for the North Korean workers in the complex is unrealistic, because inter-Korean tensions creates risk for investors. He says, if the wage rates are raised to that of China, it becomes easier from an owner's perspective to invest there, instead.

North Korea has already undermined credibility in the Kaesong zone by suspending border crossings necessary for operations several times this year.

Proposal under review

Nonetheless, South Korean officials say they will study and carefully consider the North's proposal.

A South Korean spokesman says the South's planned participation in an anti-nuclear-proliferation initiative also came up during Tuesday's meeting. South Korea urged the North to taper its rhetoric about Seoul's plan to join the Proliferation Security Initiative.

The U.S.-led cooperative of more than 90 nations shares information and military assets to prevent the illegal trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. North Korea says it would view South Korea's participation as an act of war. The South has already postponed two expected announcements that it would join PSI. The South's foreign minister told lawmakers Wednesday, South Korea has not changed its intention to join the program.

XS
SM
MD
LG