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A South Korean civic group visited North Korea on Thursday to discuss preparations for a joint event for the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule.
The North’s preparatory group for the joint anniversary sent an invitation to the South on Monday that the two sides meet in the North’s border city of Kaesong on Thursday to talk about preparations for a joint anniversary event on Liberation Day, which falls on Aug. 15.
The Unification Ministry approved the civic group’s request to visit the North on Wednesday.
The move came amid lingering tension between the two Koreas as the North has rejected the South’s recent offers for talks between parliamentary speakers and a global security forum. Pyongyang claims that Seoul should first end its confrontational policy toward it.
But in what could be seen as a conciliatory gesture, the North, albeit at the non-government level, has proposed to have preparatory talks for the joint event.
On Sunday, the North’s Korean Central News Agency said that the North will hold a variety of events to mark the 70th anniversary in Pyongyang and the truce village of Panmunjom on Aug. 13-15. The Korean Peninsula was under Japan’s colonial rule from 1910-45.
North Korea “keeps the door open to South Koreans” who hope to take part in the events, the KCNA said.
In June, the two Koreas failed to hold a joint ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of an inter-Korean summit as the North abruptly proposed holding separate events.
This time, the South’s civic group may propose that the two sides hold anniversary events in both Seoul and Pyongyang and each other’s representatives would visit the other’s event venue, officials said.
If the joint event for Liberation Day is held, it will mark the first time since 2005 that such a joint anniversary event takes place.
The South Korean government earlier said it will promote inter-Korean civilian exchanges in the landmark year of 2015 in non-political areas, such as cultural activities and sports, if they can help promote national unity. (Yonhap)
The Korea Herald
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