Posted January. 30, 2014 07:31,
North Korea`s silence on South Korea`s proposal of reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War has put a brake on the much-awaited event. Seoul proposed Monday to hold working-level contacts to prepare for the family reunions at the truce village of Panmunjeom on Wednesday. However, Pyongyang remained silent for the third day Wednesday on the offer.
Failure to hold the working-level talks has caused a setback in the reunion event. Some officials in Seoul express concern that the reunions could be canceled again.
On Wednesday, the South Korean government sent a telephone message to the North, urging Pyongyang to quickly respond to the proposal. In the message under the name of the president of the South Korean Red Cross organization, Seoul expressed regret over Pyongyang`s unclear attitude to preparing for the proposed reunions even though the North had accepted the South`s earlier reunion offer. Even after receiving the message, the North remained silent.
Both sides find it burdensome to derail a family reunion event, as it is a humanitarian issue. Some officials in Seoul speculate that Pyongyang`s foot dragging despite such burdens indicate it is not prepared for the event. As the North has to concentrate all its resources on celebrating the birthday of its late leader Kim Jong Il (February 16), it may be that Pyongyang cannot afford to hold the proposed reunions on the following day.
"It is possible that Pyongyang needs more time to prepare for the rare reunions, as the event is the first since 2010 and would take place on the Lunar New Year`s Day, not the usual Chuseok holiday in fall," a Seoul official said. Reportedly, the North gathers families selected for such events in Pyongyang for group education and training for more than one month.