North Korea has been silent for a week now about South Korea's proposal for reunions of families separated by the Korean War. It is therefore unlikely that they will take place on Feb. 17-22 as Seoul had hoped.
"We're still waiting for an answer from the North," a government official here said Sunday,
During the Lunar New Year holidays, the North Korean regime kept up calls for an end to cross-border denunciations and military hostilities but made no mention of the family reunions.
The official Rodong Sinmun daily on Saturday wrote, "The future prospects for the inter-Korean relations depend on how the South Korean authorities will act."
It is likely that the North is deliberately avoiding an answer because the proposed schedule for family reunions coincides with former leader Kim Jong-il's birthday celebrations (Feb. 16-17) and because it wants to buy time for an indoctrination session for those who applied for reunions.
There is also speculation that the regime is trying to drag the matter out until the end of this month so that it can then cancel the reunions on the pretext of annual South Korea-U.S. military exercises.
But North Korea has promised that the original proposal was "not a bogus charm offensive."