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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
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 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 Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
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 US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of 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.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs