World News

North Korea Rejects Seoul's Proposal on Reunion Talks

North Korea has rejected South's Korea's proposal for talks on resuming reunions between families separated by the 1950s Korean War.

Seoul's Unification Ministry says the North delivered the message Thursday that a "proper atmosphere had not been created" to resume the talks.

A ministry spokesman, Kim Eui-do, said Seoul was disappointed in Pyongyang's decision.



"Our side considers it regrettable that North Korea has disagreed on our proposal for South and North Korean Red Cross negotiations on the fundamental solution to issues such as the regularization of separated families' reunions. As we have expressed a number of times, the issue of separated families is an assignment that must be resolved as a top priority in South-North Korean relations without connection to any other issue."



The North has often tried to tie the issue of family reunions to the resumption of other inter-Korean projects, such as restarting South Korean tours to its Mount Kumgang resort.

The family reunions were temporarily resumed last month for the first time in three years. The reunions followed rare high-level talks that had raised the possibility of an upswing in fragile Korean relations.

The North's rejection follows a series of short-range missile and rocket tests Pyongyang has carried out in response to large-scale U.S.-South Korean war drills.



The North on Wednesday described the launches as routine and defensive. It slammed the ongoing Key Resolve military exercise as provocative.

Washington and Seoul say their own drills are defensive, and say Pyongyang's tests are in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

South Korea's Defense Ministry also provided more details Thursday about one of the North Korean rockets that narrowly missed a Chinese passenger airplane with over 200 people on board.

A spokesman, Kim Min-seok said Pyongyang did not give any advanced warning about the Tuesday launch.



"North Korea also committed serious threatening acts that ignored the prior navigational warning that was issued as part of the international order prescribed to protect the safety of civilians. Regarding this, our military is keeping a close watch on the possibility that North Korea's repeated and continuous provocative military actions could lead to actual provocation. We are making full preparations to respond sternly and strongly should there be provocation."



On Wednesday, South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin warned he "could not exclude the possibility" North Korea could soon conduct a nuclear or long-range missile test.

The developments are being watched closely by thousands of aging Koreans who have not seen or spoke to their relatives in decades.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday proposed allowing the separated families to communicate by way of letters and video messaging - though this, too, seems unlikely, given the North's rejection.

North and South Koreans are forbidden by their governments to correspond with one another. The two countries remain in a state of war following their 1950s conflict, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs