News / Asia

    Seoul Issues Positive Response to North's Surprise Offer of Talks

    South Korean Unification Ministry spokesperson Kim Hyung-seok reads a statement at a briefing room of Unification Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, June 6, 2013.
    South Korean Unification Ministry spokesperson Kim Hyung-seok reads a statement at a briefing room of Unification Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, June 6, 2013.
    South Korea is reacting positively to a surprise offer from the North for talks on a wide range of issues. This marks a significant reversal of tensions on the peninsula, which had been at their highest state in decades.

    South Korea's Unification Ministry says Seoul "positively accepts" Pyongyang's proposal for working-level talks.

    Spokesman Kim Hyung-Seok tells reporters this will be an opportunity to build trust between the two Koreas and that details relating to the date and agenda will be announced later.

    North Korea's surprise offer of talks was issued in the name of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland. It came in a special announcement aired shortly after 12 noon (Thursday) on North Korean radio and television.

    The North Korean announcer says the North proposes holding talks about normalizing the operation in the Kaesong Industrial Zone and  resuming tours to Mt. Kumgang.  Humanitarian issues, such as the reunion of separated families and their relatives, can also be discussed during the talks, if necessary.

    The announcer adds that Pyongyang will allow Seoul to set the place and date of the meeting.

    The Kaesong industrial complex, just north of the border, ceased operations in April, when North Korea pulled its 43,000 factory workers from the complex.

    Seoul has already offered working-level talks, but only to discuss allowing the managers of the more than 100 South Korean factories in the zone to be able to retrieve raw materials and finished goods left behind after they pulled out.

    The Kumgang mountain tourism resort, another rare inter-Korean cooperative venture, also generated millions of dollars worth of revenue for the communist government. Three years ago, the North seized the assets of the South Korean government and private entities at the resort. It expelled the South Korean workers who had remained behind to maintain hotels and restaurants following a 2008 incident in which a South Korean was shot dead by a North Korean soldier near the resort.
     
    The North's relatively flexible offer of talks about the halted projects is seen as a significant reversal after recent months of bellicose rhetoric.

    Pyongyang had threatened to launch a nuclear war - a threat not taken very seriously by Seoul or Washington. It also declared the 1953 Korean War armistice to be void and vowed to continue pursuing its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in defiance of international sanctions.

    The offer of talks from Pyongyang was made just after South Korean President Park Geun-hye gave a Memorial Day speech that contained remarks directed at the North.

    President Park says "North Korea must give up its policies that are fueling its isolation and backwardness and bravely accept the hand of reconciliation being offered by South Korea and the global community and strive for mutual prosperity."

    The two Koreas have never established diplomatic relations nor signed a peace treaty.

    (( SIGNED))

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora