News

South Korean Defense Minister to Make Historic Visit to North

South Korea has announced it will include its minister of defense in an entourage traveling to North Korea for their summit meeting next month. This will be the first such defense visit since the end of the Korean War in 1953. VOA's Kurt Achin has more on the story from Seoul.

South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung announced the list of those who will join President Roh Moo-hyun next month in Pyongyang for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Lee says Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo will attend with other cabinet level officials at the summit, scheduled from October 2 - 4.

No South Korean defense minister has ever traveled to North Korea. When the two countries held their historic first and only summit in 2000, the South Korean defense minister stayed behind.

North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, igniting a three-year war, which ended in a temporary armistice. That agreement has been the cornerstone of a tense detente in the decades since. But with no formal peace treaty, the two sides remain technically at war.

Despite warming North-South ties after the 2000 summit, occasional flashpoints do arise. Shots were exchanged briefly last month across the heavily armed border separating North and South.

The two sides have also had several deadly naval clashes in waters west of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has always rejected the maritime border at the heart of those clashes, set by the United Nations in 1953.

There is speculation that this border dispute may be on the negotiating table since the South Korean defense minister is attending the summit.

South Korea's main opposition party, whose candidate is a front-runner to replace Mr. Roh when he steps down next year, have warned him to leave the maritime border off the summit agenda. Conservative critics of the Roh administration say it too easily makes concessions to Pyongyang, which repaid the gestures by conducting its first nuclear weapon test last year.

Kim Tae-woo, an analyst at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul, says bringing the defense chief to next month's summit may help assuage critics' concerns.

He says the Defense Ministry is dead set against renegotiating the North-South maritime border until there is better military confidence between the two sides. Including Kim Jang-soo at the summit, he says, may make it less likely the border will be discussed.

South Korean officials have revealed almost no details about the upcoming summit's agenda, fueling speculation in South Korea's media.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs