SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- South Korea on Friday welcomed the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s acceptance of its recent proposal to hold reunion of separated families, heralding a thaw in inter-Korean relations amid Pyongyang's repeated peace call.
Seoul's Unification Ministry said in a statement that the DPRK sent a notice in the name of the Red Cross at around 6 p.m. Friday to propose holding reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
The notice said that the family reunion will be held in the DPRK's scenic resort of Mount Kumgang as agreed upon before, but it noted that the date of the event can be determined for the South's convenience after the Lunar New Year's holiday passes by and the weather starts to thaw.
The DPRK said that other issues would be discussed through the Red Cross communication channels at the truce village of Panmunjom.
"North Korea (DPRK) turned up a card that the South cannot rebuff. The North showed flexible attitude to prove its sincerity (over its recent peace call)," Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the private Sejong Institute in Seoul, said by phone.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye proposed at her New Year' s press conference to resume the family reunion around the Lunar New Year that falls on January 31, but the DPRK rejected the offer, saying that obstacles should be removed.
Pyongyang called for Seoul to cancel its annual joint military drills with Washington scheduled for late February to April, but South Korea rejected the demand, saying that the exercise is defensive in nature.
The National Defense Commission sent an open letter Thursday on a special order from DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Un, saying that Pyongyang's repeated peace call was not "camouflaged," the official KCNA news agency reported on Friday.
On Jan. 16, the commission said in its "important proposal" that the two Koreas should stop all hostile acts starting from Jan. 30 on the eve of the Lunar New Year.
Responding to the DPRK's open letter, South Korea expressed doubt about sincerity of the DPRK's recent peace overture on Friday, urging Pyongyang to accept the family reunion proposal.
As the DPRK accepted Seoul's proposal for the humanitarian event, inter-Korean relations were expected to ease.
Seoul's Unification Ministry has claimed that if Pyongyang keeps its word and builds trust with Seoul, there will be no issues that cannot be discussed between the two Koreas.
The DPRK has asked South Korea to talk about the resumption of the tour to the Mount Kumgang resort, which Seoul said should be discussed separately from the family reunion.
The two Koreas originally planned to hold the family reunion in late September last year, but the DPRK abruptly delayed the humanitarian event at the last minute.
Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said on Wednesday that the DPRK failed to keep its word, citing the cancelled family reunion event last year.
DPRK leader Kim Jong Un said in his New Year's address that Pyongyang will create atmosphere to mend relations with South Korea.
Cheong at the Sejong Institute cautioned that it would have some limitations in improving the inter-Korean ties given the scheduled joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.
South Korean military has confirmed that it will conduct the Key Resolve and the Foal Eagle war games with the United States from late February to April as scheduled, noting that the drills were defensive in nature.
Last year, the U.S. Air Force's B-2 stealth bombers carried out its first-ever firing drill in South Korea during the joint exercises. The U.S. military also deployed other nuclear-capable weapons such as B-52 bombers and submarine USS Cheyenne.
It was known that no U.S. aircraft carrier would participate in this year's joint military drills in what appeared to be their efforts to minimize the possible backlash from the DPRK, which denounced the exercises as the rehearsal for the northward invasion.
DPRK offers to S.Korea to hold reunion of separated families
SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday offered to South Korea to hold a reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, Seoul's Unification Ministry said.
The Unification Ministry said in an e-mailed statement that the DPRK sent a notice in the name of the Red Cross Friday afternoon, proposing to hold the family reunion event after the Lunar New Year's holiday. Full story
S.Korea urges DPRK to prove sincerity with action
SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- South Korea on Friday doubted about sincerity of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s recent peace call, citing past provocations.
Responding to the DPRK's open letter, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do said in an official statement that Seoul still doubted about sincerity of the DPRK's recent peace overture as there were several times when Pyongyang provoked after calling for peace. Full story