In a sudden turn of events, North Korea on Saturday indefinitely postponed reunions that were to start this Wednesday for families separated during the Korean War… more than six decades ago.
A statement carried by North Korea's state news agency blamed South Korea and said the reunions would not be rescheduled until a "normal atmosphere" was restored for dialogue and negotiations.
What is Pyongyang thinking, and why has it pulled the plug on a key project of inter-Korean cooperation… especially now… with chilly cross-border relations warming up in recent weeks?
Joining us live to provide us some perspective is Dr. Bong Young-shik, senior research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
Dr. Bong, welcome to the program.
Thanks for having me.
Dr. Bong, the North's announcement came less than week before separated families from South and North Korea were set to meet.
What is the North trying to achieve through, what the South Korean government called "inhumane action," especially when inter-Korean relations seemed to be on the upswing?
North Korea, when canceling the reunions planned for this Wednesday, accused South Korean leaders of "throwing obstacles" in the way of reconciliation.
How can we interpret this accusation by Pyongyang?
The North pulled the plug on the family reunions on Saturday, and also said it was pulling out of talks on resuming South Korean tours to the North's Mount Geumgang resort.
That's one project that Pyongyang was especially keen on resuming.
What is North Korea thinking?
North Korea had been persistent about lumping three issues together: the resumption of Mount Geumgang tours, the reopening of the Gaeseong industrial park and the resumption of reunions.
The South held to its position that the projects should be dealt with separately.
In its statement, North Korea said a "normal mood" or atmosphere must be created by South Korea in order for the family reunions to take place. What do they mean by this, and how do you expect the South Korean government to go forward from here on out?
Dr. Bong, in your view will the latest chill in inter-Korean relations deal a setback to the reopening of the jointly-run Gaeseong industrial park? What's your forecast on inter-Korean relations now?
Dr. Bong Young-shik, senior research fellow at Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies thanks so much for speaking with us this evening. We appreciate it.