Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Thursday, October 26, 2000

North-South Korean progress
hits bump in road over list

By Jim Lea
Osan bureau chief

Some tiny cracks seem to be opening in the fragile détente between South and North Korea — postponing planned reunions of Korean families.

The South Korean Red Cross has accused the North of breaking a good-faith agreement — made during June’s inter-Korean Summit — by failing to provide a list of North Korean candidates for reunions to be held in November. Last week, the Red Cross sent a letter to Pyongyang, gently chastising the North for dragging its feet on providing the list.

The reunions take at least a month to plan, a Unification Ministry spokesman said last week, but the reunion will not be held as a result of the North’s inaction.

As of Tuesday, the North’s list still had not been received, the ministry official said.

Pyongyang also appears to have backed away from a promise to stop hurling propaganda blasts at the South. While both sides have removed propaganda signs at the Demilitarized Zone, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency has leveled a blast at what it calls Seoul’s "incomprehensible behavior."

In a recent KCNA report monitored in Seoul, the news agency rebuked South Korean authorities for "provoking the North, going against the process of improving inter-Korean relations."

As "proof," the KCNA noted that South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Lee Jong-bin, with some other officials, staged a memorial service related to the "Myanmar case."

The "Myanmar case" occurred on Oct. 9, 1983, during a visit by then-South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan to Yangoon (formerly called Rangoon, Burma). As South Korean and Myanmar officials were waiting for Chun’s arrival for a memorial ceremony at the Martyr’s Mausoleum in the city’s national cemetary, a bomb exploded. Seventeen South Koreans, including cabinet ministers, and four Burmese were killed.

Burmese authorities arrested a North Korean army major and two captains who were aboard a North Korean ship tied up in the city’s harbor. One of the captains confessed that the three officers had planted the bomb.

In its report, KCNA said Pyongyang has "more than once unequivocally stated that it had nothing to do with the bombing."

The report said blaming the North for the bombing is a "sinister plot (by) those forces who are displeased with the improvement of the North-South relations and developments on the Korean Peninsula favorable for peace and reunification."

Bae Gi-chul contributed to this report.



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