SEOUL, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's Unification Ministry on Wednesday reiterated its stance that it will put the issue of reunion of separated families before the resumption of Mount Kumgang tour.
"At the current stage, we judge that the issue of Mount Kumgang tour should be tackled after dealing with the family reunion issue first," Unification Ministry spokeswoman Park Soo-jin told a press briefing.
South Korea on Tuesday accepted the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or the DPRK's proposal to hold talks on resuming tours to the scenic resort in Mount Kumgang, just north of the heavily armed border, but it suggested holding the dialogue on Sept. 25, rather than on Friday as proposed by the DPRK.
The two sides agreed to hold Red Cross dialogue on reunion of families separated by the Korean War (1950-53) this Friday, but remained at odds over the dialogue venue, with South Korea adhering to the truce village of Panmunjom, and the DPRK sticking to Mount Kumgang.
Seoul has cautioned about Pyongyang's intent to link the family reunion with the issue of restarting the Mount Kumgang tour, saying that it would deal with the two issues separately. But Pyongyang said that "family reunion and Mount Kumgang tour are linked and separating the issues cannot be right."
But the Unification Ministry later softened its tone and said in a separate statement that it will correct its spokeswoman's earlier remarks.
The correction said that the two issues "are a separate one" and the family reunion will be pushed rapidly "independent of talks on restarting Mount Kumgang tours," calling off the initial comments that Seoul will push the family reunion ahead of the Mount Kumgang tour.
One day after the two Koreas agreed to reopen their jointly operated factory park in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong, South Korean President Park Geun-hye proposed the family reunion last week, hoping the reunion could be held around the time of the upcoming Chuseok holidays that fall on Sept. 19 this year.
Tour to Mount Kumgang, launched in 1998, was halted in 2008 when a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by a DPRK soldier for venturing into an off-limit area.