The Unification Ministry expressed deep regret Wednesday over North Korea’s threat to cancel the upcoming reunions of separated families, urging the North not to politicize the humanitarian issue.
Late Tuesday, North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification threatened to scrap the family reunions slated for late October as President Park Geun-hye urged North Korea not to push ahead with its satellite launch.
Park made the comments in her speech on Monday at the U.N. General Assembly, where she called on the North to walk the path toward openness rather than provocations.
Jeong Joon-hee, ministry spokesman, voiced deep regret over the North’s threat, encouraging Pyongyang to honor the two Koreas’ recent landmark deal on promoting civilian inter-Korean exchanges and easing tension.
“The South Korean government urges North Korea to immediately stop its threats and unilateral condemnation and to sincerely honor the inter-Korean deal,” Jeong told a regular press briefing.
He said that North Korea should not put the humanitarian issue at risk, due to political reasons.
On Aug. 25, South and North Korea agreed to defuse military tension and seek to hold the reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
The two Koreas plan to hold the event for 100 families from each side on Oct. 20-26 at the scenic resort on the North’s Mount Kumgang.
There is growing speculation that North Korea is likely to launch a long-range rocket around the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party which falls on Oct. 10.
Experts view it as a cover for ballistic missile tests.
The North has also hinted at conducting a fourth nuclear test by saying that all the facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex have returned to normal operations. It conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013. (Yonhap)
The Korea Herald