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, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid