North Korea Warns Family Reunions Might Be In Danger

25 Dec

SEOUL: Pyongyang warned on Friday that new efforts by Seoul to investigate alleged wartime abductions of South Koreans by the North would endanger further reunions of separated families.

A spokesman for the North's National Reconciliation Council, a state body in charge of non-governmental exchanges, denounced the efforts by the conservative South Korean government as a “smear campaign”.

South Korea this month launched a government committee headed by its prime minister which will investigate the reported abductions during the 1950-53 war and seek repatriations.

There is no official estimate by the South of the numbers involved. The North denies holding anyone against their will.

“This is another vicious political provocation and unpardonable racket for confrontation with the DPRK (North Korea),” the North's spokesman was quoted as saying by the official news agency.

South Korean authorities “had better stop such ridiculous racket at once, bearing in mind that such poor farce would only throw obstacles in the way of solving the issue of the separated families and relatives,” the spokesman said.

After a year-long hiatus the two sides held a temporary reunion programme in late October for families separated since the war.

The South was pressing to make the reunions a regular event, while the North demanded massive food and fertiliser aid in return.

But tensions rose sharply after the North shelled a South Korean border island last month, killing four people including two civilians.

A furious Seoul then denounced Pyongyang for an “inhumane atrocity”, called off Red Cross talks on arranging more reunions and halted flood aid to its neighbour.

– AFP/de

Channel News Asia

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