South Korea proposes talks with North Korea

2014-12-29 10:40
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un attending the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang. (KCNA, AFP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un attending the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang. (KCNA, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - A top South Korean official has offered to hold high-level talks with North Korea in January, as Pyongyang battles growing pressure over human rights and a cyber row with the US.

Ryoo Kihl-Jae, the South's unification minister in charge of North Korean affairs, said he was willing to meet in Seoul or the North's capital Pyongyang for the rare high-level talks.

"I hope that the North will show an active response to this offer," Ryoo said in a press conference.

"We are willing to discuss any issues of mutual concern," Ryoo said, adding that a formal proposal had been sent to his North Korean counterpart Kim Yang-Gon.

Such mutual concerns include a reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War and various events to mark the 70th anniversary of the division of the peninsula in 1945, he said.

"We need dialogue and cooperation to implement such projects... I hope the talks will help ease the pain of the separated families before the Lunar New Year," he said, referring to the traditional holiday that falls on 19 February.

High-level talks

The last round of formal high-level talks was held in February and resulted in the North hosting a rare union of relatives separated by the conflict.

The two Koreas had earlier agreed to restart dialogue when a top-ranking North Korean delegation made a surprise visit to the Asian Games held in the South in October.

The unusual trip raised hopes of a thaw, but was followed by a series of minor military clashes along the border that renewed tensions and talks never materialised.

Ties were strained further when the North angrily slammed the South for allowing its activists to send anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border via hot air balloons.

Seoul rejected Pyongyang's demand to ban such exercises, saying there is no legal ground to stop free activities by citizens.

Ryoo did not address the issue on Monday, leading some observers to question whether the North would accept his proposal.

Pyongyang 'feeling cornered'

"What the North wants from the South is some kind of assurance... to stop the leaflets so I am not sure if the North would embrace the offer easily," said Hong Hyun-Ik, analyst at Sejong Institute think tank.

But Pyongyang must be "feeling very cornered" by the ongoing cyber war with the US over the hacking of Sony Pictures in November, which may prompt the North to reach out to Seoul to defuse tension, he added.

"Kim Jong-Un's New Year address should be closely watched to get a clue on whether the North seeks to improve ties or not," Hong said.

The isolated nation has suffered a mysterious Internet outage for the past week after Washington vowed retaliation over the crippling cyber attack on Sony - the studio behind the movie "The Interview".

The comedy about a fictional plot to assassinate Kim enraged the North, which slammed it as "an act of war”.

Washington blames Pyongyang for launching the attack on Sony. The North denied involvement and accused the US of shutting its major internet websites.

At the same time, South Korea saw some of its nuclear reactors hit by a string of cyber attacks that led to the leak of information including operation manuals and reactor designs.

Seoul's justice minister said last week investigators were looking into potential involvement by the North in the attack.

But Pyongyang on Sunday rejected the accusation, calling it "ridiculous conspiracy" by Seoul intended to raise tensions.

The North also faces growing pressure to improve its dismal human rights record as the UN steps up a campaign to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Read more on:    kim jong un  |  north korea  |  south korea  |  sony hack

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.