News / Asia

North Korea Threatens to Cancel Family Reunions

South Korean Yun Sang-in, left, kisses his North Korean elder brother Yun Tae Young on the last day of the three-day Separated Family Reunion Meetings at Diamond Mountain in North Korea, Nov. 1, 2010.
South Korean Yun Sang-in, left, kisses his North Korean elder brother Yun Tae Young on the last day of the three-day Separated Family Reunion Meetings at Diamond Mountain in North Korea, Nov. 1, 2010.
VOA News
North Korea is threatening to cancel its just-announced family reunions with the South if Seoul and Washington go ahead with upcoming joint military drills.

The threat comes a day after Pyongyang and Seoul agreed to hold reunions later this month between families separated by the 1950s Korean War, in a rare sign of inter-Korean cooperation.

On state television Thursday, the North's National Defense Commission was quoted as saying the war drills are incompatible with improved inter-Korean relations, stating, "We're clearly stating that dialogue and invasive war practices can never co-exist, just as reconciliation and conflict can't [co-exist]."

War games

North Korea has for weeks called for the U.S. to cancel its Foal Eagle and Key Resolve war drills set for later this month, viewing them as preparation to invade.

The North's statement also slammed the U.S. for allegedly deploying B-52 bombers in South Korea on Wednesday while the talks between Seoul and Pyongyang were being held.

The U.S. has not commented on the North Korean allegation about the B-52s, which have been used in the past during routine military drills over South Korea, but the South's Yonhap news agency quoted a Seoul military source as saying one of the bombers was flown on a training exercise Wednesday.

Kim Min-seok, a spokesman for South Korea's Defense Ministry, insists Seoul is standing firm, and will not cancel this month's war drills.

"Key Resolve and Foal Eagle are annual defensive exercises for the defense of the Korean peninsula. So the exercises will go ahead as usual apart from the reunion of the separated families," said Kim.

Many fear the war games will give North Korea an opportunity to back out of the family reunions, which have not been held since 2010.
 
Bargaining chip?


Stephen Noerper with the New York-based Korea Society told VOA there has always been a risk that North Korea would withdraw.
 
"Some feel that North Korea may be using this as a bargaining chip in that the reunions are scheduled now for February 20-25 and those South Korea-U.S. military exercises are due to begin at the end of the month," said Noerper.
 
Both sides also agreed to resume the family meetings last year, but North Korea canceled at the last minute, citing the South's "hostility."
 
However, South Korean officials on Wednesday said they had received assurances that Pyongyang would follow through this time.
 
David Straub, of the Korean Studies Program at Stanford University, told VOA that may be the case, if North Korea feels enough pressure from China, its biggest ally, as well as the U.S., Japan and South Korea.
 
"It may very well be that the North Korean leadership is feeling the need to get a little flexibility and show a nicer side for a while so they can get one or more of these states to start playing 'footsie' with them again," said Straub.
 
Since the family reunions began in 2000, about 18,000 Koreans have been temporarily reunited.
 
However, many more Koreans, many of whom are aging, are anxious for the program to resume, as they are unable even to exchange letters or phone calls with their relatives.
 
If this month's reunions take place, they will be held from February 20-25 at the Mount Kumgang resort on North Korea's east coast.
 
VOA's Victor Beattie contributed to this report.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid