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S. Korea euphoric, L.A. Times reports

Posted August. 31, 2000 13:12,   


"These days, it is as if everyone in South Korea is walking on tiptoes, trying not to upset North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il," the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.

The paper said that euphoria has swept South Korea in the aftermath of dramatic reunions between families from both sides, the fruit of a historic summit in June between the leaders of the two nations.

"But little is being discussed, publicly at least, of the sharp ideological and economic differences that were revealed when the 200 Koreans -- 100 each from the North and South -- met recently with their families after half a century," the report stated.

The L.A. Times also noted that no one in Korea wants to jeopardize the fledgling rapprochement and future reunions, saying that millions of South Koreans are hoping for their chance to reunite with their loved ones living in North Korea, stoked by the heart-rending scenes they saw on television.

It said that the South Korean government scaled back its annual war games, which began last week. It has reduced field exercises and, according to a South Korean military source, decided not to simulate an invasion of North Korea in computerized exercises.

There has been no immediate demand that North Korea return hundreds of South Korean prisoners of war said to remain in the North, in exchange for the 63 former North Korean spies whom the South will return to North Korea on Saturday.

It quoted Choi Woo-Young, whose father`s fishing boat with a dozen people was allegedly seized by the North in 1987, as saying: "The government said this whole problem is like a hot potato and we should take it very slowly. And the public is still wanting me to keep silent because they don`t want to jeopardize the reunification either."

Instead, joint projects with the North are speeding ahead. Drafts are being made for a North-South highway and North-South railroad that last ran before war ravaged the peninsula in 1950, the newspaper reported.