Could the much-anticipated reunions for families separated since the Korean War be in jeopardy? North Korea has once again called on the South to halt its upcoming joint military drills with the United States.
This comes just one day after the two Koreas agreed to hold the humanitarian event in the third week of February.
For more, we have our unification ministry correspondent Hwang Sung-hee on the line.
Sung-hee, what can you tell us?
Good evening, guys.
North Korea's powerful National Defense Commission has released a statement urging the cancellation of the upcoming joint military drills between South Korea and the United States.
The statement said that acts of reconciliation and provocation, such as holding talks and practicing for a war, cannot co-exist, and called on the South to drop its confrontational stance and carry out policies that can live up to the expectations of its people.
This comes just a day after the two Koreas agreed to hold the long-suspended family reunions from February 20th to the 25th.
The dates will most likely overlap with the Key Resolve exercises, which usually begin in the last week of February.
Seoul's defense ministry said the drills will not be affected by the reunions and take place as planned.
South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae also said the North must stick to the agreement it made yesterday to build trust between the Koreas.
Sung-hee, we are also aware that officials in charge of the inter-Korean Red Cross hotline at the truce village of Panmunjom are working overtime?
The hotline is usually open until 4 p.m. Korea time, but Seoul's unification ministry said that the North has asked to extend the working hours for today.
What's at issue is a planned trip tomorrow by a team of South Korean engineers to the reunion site in the North.
South Korea sent a list of around 50 officials earlier this afternoon, but the North said the list will most likely be confirmed after 4 p.m., the usual closing time of the hotline.
An official at the unification ministry said the extended working hour does not seem to be related to the statement released by North Korea today.
But we have to remember that North Korea does have a history of breaking promises, including its last-minute cancellation of a round of family reunions just last year.
Back to you.
That was our Hwang Sung-hee reporting on North Korea's call for a halt to the upcoming joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.