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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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