News / Asia

2 Koreas Hold Rare Meeting About Volcano

South Korean chief delegate Ryu In-chang, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Yoon Yong Geun during a meeting to discuss joint research on volcanic activity at the North's highest Paektu mountain, at the Inter-Korean Transit Office in Pa
South Korean chief delegate Ryu In-chang, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Yoon Yong Geun during a meeting to discuss joint research on volcanic activity at the North's highest Paektu mountain, at the Inter-Korean Transit Office in Pa

Representatives of the two Korea's held face-to-face talks on Tuesday. The rare cross-border meeting was prompted by this month's earthquake and destructive tsunami in Japan.  The delegations discussed cooperation in researching a potential eruption of a North Korean volcano.

One of the South Korean scientists who participated says the one-day discussion concluded with a proposal by the North for more talks early next month. South Korea says it is considering that.

Thirteen North Koreans, including three volcano specialists, crossed into the South for a meeting at the immigration office in the border town, Munsan.  They were greeted by four South Korean geologists for a day of discussions about the Mount Paektu volcano.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies, sees the scientific discussion as an icebreaker between the two Koreas amid an extended chill in relations.

Yang says distrust between Seoul and Pyongyang is so deep right now that it is difficult to have substantive inter-Korean talks.  He says that is why  they are starting with something less political and more on a civil level.  But he thinks the dialogue could evolve into
higher-level talks.

Sacred mount

For Koreans, the topic of the talks is quite symbolic.

Many Koreans consider Mount Paektu, the highest on the peninsula, sacred. North Korea claims it is where its current leader Kim Jong Il was born. The mountain is also mentioned in South Korea’s national anthem.

Paektu rises to more than 2,700 meters on the North Korean-Chinese border.  It has not had a volcanic eruption in 108 years.  However, some seismologists say recent topographical data, including satellite imagery, indicate it may have an active core and that a big eruption could cause a huge mountain lake to overflow and flood surrounding areas.  Ash from
an eruption could also cause havoc for international air travel.

The two Korea's have no diplomatic relations and fought a three-year civil war to a stalemate in the early 1950s.

Yeonpyeong tensions

Seoul blames Pyongyang for the sinking of a warship in the Yellow Sea, a year ago.  Forty-six South Korean sailors died.  North Korea denies any involvement.

Last November, North Korea shelled a South Korean island, killing four people.

Since the attack on Yeonpyeong island, the two Korea's have held preliminary defense and Red Cross talks which did not result in any breakthroughs for either side.

North proposed talks

The meeting about the volcano was proposed by Pyongyang, following the March 11 magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

At the start of Tuesday's talks, a member of the North Korean delegation said officials in Pyongyang are closely monitoring whether radiation from a nuclear power plant damaged by the Japanese natural disaster will reach North Korea.

South Korea announced Tuesday that traces of radioactive iodine have been detected in Seoul and other locations on the peninsula.  The radiation in the atmosphere is believed to be from Japan’s stricken Fukushima-1 facility.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs