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Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks Begin

Posted December. 14, 2005 06:15,   


The 17th inter-Korean ministerial talks opened on December 13 at Lotte Hotel on Jeju Island.

Led by North Korean Cabinet Councilor Kwon Ho Ung, 29 North Korean delegates arrived at Jeju Airport on a Korean Air P-813 direct flight via the West Sea at around 2:20 p.m.

Unification Minister Chung Dong-young greeted the delegation, who arrived in the lobby of Lotte Hotel at 3:30 p.m., saying, “Welcome, I am glad to see you all. You’ve come a long way.” And Kwon responded, “Nice to see you.”

Minister Chung expressed friendliness, as he used the unusual title of “brother” to Maeng Kyeong Il, councilor of the Asia Pacific Peace Committee, and Chun Jong Soo, director of secretariat of the Peace Unification Committee.

Councilor Kwon greeted Chang Kyeong-jak, president of Lotte Hotel, saying, “I am sorry to trouble you once again.”

North and South Koreas held the third ministerial talks in September 2000 at Lotte Hotel.

The North and South Korean delegations attended a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan at the Crystal Ballroom in the hotel that evening.

The dinner was attended by Song Min-sun, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and chief of the South Korean delegation to the Six-Party talks, and Lee Jong-seok, deputy head of the National Security Council (NSC).

Deputy Minister Song will participate in the general meeting scheduled to be held at 10:00 a.m. on December 14 as an observer and discuss with North Korea the measures to hold the six-party talks. The talks will last until December 16.

About 10 people including Choi Seong-yong, head of Comebackhome, an organization of people whose family members were abducted to North Korea, and Do Hee-yoon, secretary general of the Citizens` Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees (CHNK), were trying to stage a protest in front of the hotel in time for the arrival of North Korean delegation in order to call for the return of South Korean prisoners of war and civilian abductees, but to no avail due to the control by the police.

They held a memorial service for the families on the grass near the hotel and argued, “Without the determination to resolve the issue of repatriation of abductees and prisoners, the talks will end up as a mere formality wasting the tax payers’ money.”

Family members of Han Mahn-taek (72), who defected from North Korea to China and was sent to the North at the end of last year, also attended the protest.

Jae-Young Im jy788@donga.com