Propaganda Leaflets Arise as Issue Over High Level Talks

kpopluv, Oct. 28, 2014, 9:08 a.m.

The two Koreas are squabbling over propaganda leaflets floated across the border by South Korean activists last Saturday, casting a pall over prospects for high-level talks. In a message to Cheong Wa Dae via a military hotline on early Sunday morning, North Korea complained that while police blocked attempts to float leaflets across the border in the daytime, "South Korean authorities allowed them to send leaflets in the evening." It warns the two sides must "think about whether high-level talks can be held in such an atmosphere."

In a reply on Monday morning, Seoul said, "There are no legal grounds to prevent civilian groups' campaign." It called on the North to say whether or not it wants the high-level talks to go ahead. On Oct. 4, when senior North Korean officials made a surprise visit to Incheon, the two sides agreed to hold the talks either in late October or early November. In a message to Pyongyang on Oct. 13, Seoul proposed Oct. 30 as the date for the talks.

But Pyongyang has not answered.  Chung Sung-jang at the Sejong Institute commented, "The talks are unlikely to go ahead, and even if they do they won't achieve much given the inflexible attitude of the North."

But Seoul still hopes the talks will happen. Officials here point out that North Korea did not fire at the balloons last Saturday, nor did it flatly cancel the talks in the telephone message.  The complaints may therefore be a way of gaining advance leverage in the talks.  "It's a little tug-of-war along the path to the high-level talks," Prof. Kim Yong-hyun of Dongguk University said. "The North will come to the dialogue table."

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