A high-ranking government official on Sunday called on North Korea to waste no time in resuming cross-border family reunions following the North's abrupt decision to cancel the event.
The Unification Ministry decided to keep a list of candidates that had been submitted for the planned reunion.
Both ruling and opposition party lawmakers criticized North Korea for canceling the reunions scheduled for late September. Ruling Saenuri Party spokeswoman Min Hyun-ju expressed "strong regret" at North Korea's "anti-humanitarian stance" and accused Pyongyang of sticking only to pledges that suit its interests while paying no attention to humanitarian issues.
Main opposition Democratic Party floor leader Jun Byung-hun told reporters that "breaking the hearts of separated families" is unforgivable.
But North Korea insisted it did the right thing in canceling the family reunions. In a statement, the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland accused the South of trying to "avoid responsibility and create animosity and malicious sentiment against North Korea."
"Though we want to resolve problems with the South, including humanitarian projects, we cannot ignore hostile tactics that hurt our dignity and pride," it said.
The North accused the conservative South Korean government of using inter-Korean dialogue as a means to "seek a showdown" with the communist country.
Pyongyang is apparently miffed that Seoul refuses to discuss the resumption of lucrative package tours to the North's Mt.Kumgang resort before the family reunions have taken place.
Meanwhile, 75 South Korean staff who went to Mt. Kumgang to prepare for the reunions returned to South Korea on Sunday.