October 17, 2014 09:50
North and South Korea engaged in a slanging match on Thursday after military talks ended without results a day earlier, leaving Seoul with a great deal of egg on its face.
North Korea's state media said Pyongyang had offered to send a "special envoy" to hold talks with presidential national security adviser Kim Kwan-jin on Oct. 7, when the two Koreas exchanged gunfire along the de facto maritime border in the West Sea, but the South refused.
The North said it then sent a second wire message the following day proposing talks, but the South again failed to respond, prompting Pyongyang to threaten to reveal the proposals.
The official [North] Korean Central News Agency said South Korea finally responded by saying it would send Ryu Je-seung, the Defense Ministry's deputy minister of national policy.
It also said that it was South Korea that insisted the military talks are kept secret. KCNA warned Pyongyang could now reveal the contents of the talks in order to expose the "hypocrisy" of the South Korean government. Officials here on Wednesday claimed the talks were kept secret at the North's insistence.
"It is an undeniable reality of the time that inter-Korean high-level talks are at risk of being thwarted," KCNA said.
The high-level talks are planned for late this month or early next month. The South Korean Defense Ministry in a press release Thursday night expressed "regret" at North Korea's "distortion" of the facts.
The Defense Ministry said the special envoy North Korea offered to send was Kim Yong-chol, director of the General Reconnaissance Bureau, but that the South replied it would prefer to discuss the maritime clash in military talks or the upcoming high-level meetings. In other words, Seoul declined Kim's visit because he was the wrong official in the wrong position.
The Defense Ministry said it offered during Wednesday's talks to install a direct military hotline and voiced hopes that the high-level inter-Korean talks would go ahead as agreed.
But the government admitted that it was Seoul that proposed the meeting be kept secret, which Pyongyang accepted. It said North Korea confirmed that the talks would take place behind closed doors when it sent a list of participants to the talks on Tuesday.
In other words, officials here were lying when they repeatedly told reporters on Wednesday that the talks were kept secret at the North's request.
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