| North Korea on Thursday rejected South Korea`s proposal to hold reunions of families separated during the Korean War. The North`s rejection came via a written notice three days after South Korean President Park Geun-hye called for a resumption of the reunions around the Lunar New Year`s Day. This must be a heartbreaking news to the families in pain of separation. In September last year, the North abruptly called off reunions of families four days before the scheduled date. Practically speaking, family reunions are unlikely to take place for the time being.
North Korea engaged family reunions with military issues speaking about the South`s military exercises and President Park`s New Year press conference. It said that reunions may take place in "a good season," but still sent a strong unwillingness to proceed it because of escalating inter-Korean tensions. South Korean and U.S. Marine Corps recently agreed to hold a combined amphibious drill at the end of March in participation of 8,000 soldiers. Rejecting family reunions by giving an excuse of joint exercise that is held every year is a mere nit-pick. North Korea also holds various military drills in every winter.
At his New Year`s message, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had called for "a favorable climate" to improve inter-Korean ties. Seoul had expectations for an improvement in relations but the North Korean leader`s remarks turned out to me empty words. The Unification Ministry said it would deal North Korea issue by separating family reunion and Mt. Keumgang tour, which also might have made the North turn down the reunion proposal. When the South proposed family reunion last year, the North proposed holding talks to resume Mt. Keumgang tour. Linking humanitarian event to money is inhumane.
Family reunion should be promoted in priority without complex conditions. Eighty percent of people who applied for reunion are over age 70. Among 129,035 applicants, 56,544 people have passed away.
For his birthday, Kim Jong Un held a North Korea-.U.S. friendship basketball match on Wednesday by inviting U.S. NBA star Dennis Rodman. U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel compared Dennis Rodman`s visit to "inviting Hitler to lunch." Shortly after a horrific execution of his uncle Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Un celebrated his birthday by watching a basketball game that was played in honor of him with Rodman serenading wearing nose rings and earrings. Was it too much to ask him understand the pains of separated families?