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Oct. 22, 2014

Planned renewal of inter-Korean high-level talks in jeopardy

by Sasha Tidwell, Staff writer
Resumption of cross border communication in Korea appeared to be in jeopardy on Monday when Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, refused to confirm North Korea's participation.

Earlier this month, North and South Korea agreed to begin high-level talks after a surprise visit by a North Korean official to the ceremony of the Asian games—an inter-Asian Olympic games held every four years. North Korea has desired to communicate with their counter part for quite some time.

Communication between the two nations came as a surprise after it had been virtually non-existent for four years and North Korea regularly insulted their counterpart. They declared Park Geun-hye—president of South Korea—a "cold-blooded animal" and "a little girl".BBC's Stephen Evans says the talks are "something of a breakthrough given the level of insult thrown at the South by the North in recent years."

Although officially the Korean War ended over 60 years ago, the war ended with a cease-fire in-stead of a treaty, so technically the two sides are still at war. There have been conflicts on and off since the cease-fire.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has claimed that he has wanted to settle the disagreements be-tween the nations for a while. Bloomberg View reports, "Kim [Jong-un] has been signaling his interest in engaging with South Korea since his New Year's speech…The North has maintained its openness to dialogue and called for military-to-military talks [between North and South Korea]."

However, recent reports say that North Korean officials have changed their minds and look to end this discussion. Yahoo news reports, "In the latest in a series of similarly themed messages, North Korea said Sunday it was being forced to reconsider [inter-Korean communication] due to a perceived lack of sincerity on the South's part."

North Korea's concerns were a result of the South's decision not to ban activists from launching balloons over the border with bundles of anti-North leaflets. A faxed message from the National Defense Commission said, "We have to think again about whether high-level contact can be held in such a mood."

South Korea has insisted that they still desire communication between the two nations. It is proving difficult, as Pyongyang refers to the activists as "human scum." South Korean police have begun to force the activists to retreat to protect their opportunity for communication with the North.

Even with South Korean control over activists, inter-Korean tensions have heightened with border skirmishes and heavy machine-gun fire between both sides as the North tried to shoot down activ-ists' balloons near the border. The North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun warned that cross-border relations were "inching close to confrontation."



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