North Korea blames South for breakdown of talks


File photo shows a North Korean soldier during a military parade to mark 100 years since the birth of the country's founder Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.


Pedro Ugarte

North Korea blamed the South for the breakdown of high-level talks originally planned for this week, claiming that Southern leaders created "arrogant obstructions" to their success.

The controversy revolved around the makeup of the delegation. North Korea refused to send one of Kim Jong Un's advisors, Kim Yang Gon, to meet with South Korean Reunification Minister Ryoo Kihl Jae, on the grounds that Yang Gon was supposedly more senior than the South's representative. 

In response, South Korea decided to replace Kihl Jae with a lower-level official, an action which the North deemed in a press release to be "the height of discourtesy and disrespect unprecedented in the history of the North-South dialogue."

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The two sides also had difficulty agreeing to an agenda for the discussions, leading the North to claim on the state-run KCNA news site that "that the South side had no intent to hold dialogue from the beginning and that it only sought to create an obstacle to the talks, [to] delay and torpedo them."

In a parting shot, the KCNA release said: "We have nothing to expect from the talks between authorities of the North and the South."

South Korea expressed its regret over the talks' failure in a piece run by the Yonhap News Agency, where the South Korean Ministry of Unification said it was "highly regrettable that [Northern officials] unilaterally disclosed the contents of the working-level talks [held in Seoul on Sunday and Monday], and distorted the facts." 

The Ministry added that the "attitude of the North caused the talks to fall through," although it expressed hope that their Northern counterparts would soon return to the bargaining table. 

If the planned talks had taken place, they would have been the first high-level discussions between the two Koreas in six years. 

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