Go to contents

NK asks for limits on gifts for separated families during reunions

NK asks for limits on gifts for separated families during reunions

Posted November. 09, 2000 20:02,   


Choe Song-Chol, chief North Korean delegate to the inter-Korean Red Cross talks, sent a telephone message to his South Korean counterpart, Park Ki-Ryun, on Thursday, asking for measures to be taken to restrict the presents and the amount of gift money exchanged during the second round of inter-Korean family reunions slated for Nov. 30-Dec. 2.

In the message, the North Korean side proposed that the visitors be allowed to present cloth for a single garment to each of their parents and simple souvenirs to their brothers and sisters, while cash gifts should be limited to US$500 or less. The proposal also called for a ban on the giving of secondhand goods.

The chief North Korean delegate stressed in the message that the proposal was intended to promote the family-reunion program in line with the basic spirit of the June 15 Inter-Korean Joint Declaration and the humanitarian ideals of the Red Cross and to address the overall humanitarian question smoothly.

With the North Korean move, despite Pyongyang's radio statement protesting the Monthly Chosun magazine's controversial interview with (South) Korea National Red Cross (KNRC) president Chang Choong-Sik, it is expected that the family reunion schedule, including the exchange of the results of the searches for long-separated family members, can proceed as previously agreed upon.

Related government officials said that the North Korean side lodged a complaint against the Chang interview story on the one hand and proceeded with working-level contacts for the reunion project on the other by separating the two questions. The North's true intention will become clear when the two sides exchange the lists of candidates for family reunions on Nov. 10, they added.

It was confirmed on Thursday that the KNRC sent a letter of clarification in secret to its North Korean counterpart on Nov. 3 expressing its regret over Chang's interview statements. The government and the KNRC maintained that the sending of the letter was inappropriate until Wednesday night, but acknowledged the fact only after it was made public, drawing criticism for its double-faced tactics.

The government and the Red Cross made the excuse that they kept it secret so as not to cause an obstacle to the family-reunion program and resolve the row calmly.