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N. Korea Expresses Regret Over Imijin River Drownings

Posted October. 15, 2009 08:30,   


North Korea expressed regret yesterday over six South Koreans killed last month after the North’s unannounced release of water from a dam on the Imjin River, sending condolences to the families of the victims.

The South Korean government accepted this as an apology for the deadly accident Sept. 6.

A Unification Ministry official said, “The North Korean delegation expressed condolences to the bereaved families for the unexpected deaths in the South due to the accident on the Imjin River. This came at inter-Korean working-level talks to prevent flooding in the river held at the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Office in Kaesong.”

“Though the North did not use the term ‘apology,’ it can be seen that it made an apology in a bigger context.”

Pyongyang had expressed regret five times over the deaths, but this was the first time for it to send condolences to the bereaved families. The North claimed Sept. 7, the day after the dam discharge, that it hurriedly released water after the dam level rose in the upper stream of the river, and agreed to inform the South of a massive release of water in advance.

The North’s delegation said it was forced to release the water to prevent “bigger damage,” but failed to clarify what the bigger damage was. A Unification Ministry source said, “Its explanation was insufficient but the government sees that the North made its argument.”

The two Koreas also agreed to continue negotiations to prevent flooding in the Imjin River, but did not set the schedule for the next meeting. They decided to exchange views on paper through the Red Cross in Panmunjom.

Attending the meeting were Kim Nam-sik, director-general of inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation at the South Korean Unification Ministry, and Ri Yong Ho, director of the North’s National Economic Cooperation Alliance.