News / Asia

Koreas Meet Again Despite Rejection of North's Drill Demand

FILE - South Korean chief delegate Kim Kyou-hyun, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Won Tong Yon upon his arrival at the border village of Panumjom, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.
FILE - South Korean chief delegate Kim Kyou-hyun, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Won Tong Yon upon his arrival at the border village of Panumjom, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.
Daniel Schearf
South Korea has rejected North Korea's demand that it postpone annual joint military drills with the United States until after reunions of Korean families separated by the Korean War. Nonetheless, senior-level talks between the two Koreas are set to continue at North Korea's request.
 
North and South Korea are set to meet Friday for a second day of high-level talks after an overnight breakdown over joint military drills with the United States.
 
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said Thursday Pyongyang requested dialogue continue despite Seoul's dismissing demands it postpone the exercises.
 
North Korea said the defense drills should be held after recently re-scheduled cross-border family reunions.
 
Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae addressed South Korean lawmakers Thursday at the National Assembly, and reported that North Korea demanded the postponement of the U.S.-South Korea joint exercise until after family reunions.  The South Korean side, he said, emphasized that family reunions are a humanitarian issue and should not be linked with political or military matters. He said a clear message was sent that the South could not accept a postponement.
 
North Korea made the demand during senior level talks Wednesday at the border truce village of Panmunjom. It is the highest level discussion between the two Koreas since 2007. 
 
The North Korean delegation also demanded South Korea muzzle freedom of the press by instructing media not to print anything deemed insulting about leader Kim Jong Un and their political system.
 
The reunion of families separated by the Korean War was originally scheduled for September but, with just days to go, Pyongyang scrapped the plan. It blamed South Korea for taking too much credit for improved relations as well as insults to its dignity.
 
North Korea agreed last month to re-schedule the reunions from February 20 through 25, but once again threatened to cancel them over U.S. military flights and the defense drills, which overlap from the 24th through April.
 
North Korea's calling for a postponement of the drills represents a softening of its earlier hard-line position that they be stopped. 
 
Nonetheless, South Korea's Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said the schedule will not be changed. Kim said military units have already started moving into place to conduct the drills and the troops are supposed to participate in the drills as planned. It is not appropriate, he said, to link the exercises to the family reunions.
 
Pyongyang said the regular drills, called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, are preparation for a nuclear attack. Washington and Seoul say they are for maintaining preparedness against North Korea.
 
The apparent defrosting of relations between North and South comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Seoul.
 
The top U.S. diplomat is expected to focus much of the two-day visit on issues involving threats from North Korea and its pursuit of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.
 
VOA Seoul Bureau Producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More