January 30, 2018 09:34
North Korea has abruptly canceled cultural performances with South Korea that were planned for Feb. 4 at the Mt. Kumgang resort.
According to the Unification Ministry, the cancellation came at around 10 p.m. Monday night in a fax from Ri Son-gwon, the chairman of the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.
Ri said the North had "no choice but to cancel the agreed event" since the South Korean media "continues to propagate popular opinion that insults the sincere measures we are undertaking in relation to the Pyeongchang Olympics."
In talks on Jan. 17, the two sides agreed to hold cultural performances in Mt. Kumgang and send up-and-coming skiers from both sides to train at the North's Masikryong Ski Resort.
A South Korean delegation visited Mt. Kumgang and Masikryong last week and agreed on a schedule for the performances. But the South Korean press soon raised concerns that the money and fuel supplies required for the event could violate international sanctions against North Korea.
And in the midst of these developments, North Korea announced last Tuesday that it is holding a massive military parade marking its Army anniversary on Feb. 8, the day before the opening of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. It has previously celebrated the anniversary on April 25.
The U.S. denounced the timing as a direct challenge to the international community.
Seoul said North Korea's unilateral notice was "deeply regrettable" and urged the North to follow through on the agreed terms as the two sides "take the first step toward improving inter-Korean relations."
This is not the first time that North Korea has changed its mind. On Jan 19, it told the South at overnight notice that it would "suspend" the visit of delegation the next day led by bandleader-cum-apparatchik Hyon Song-wo to inspect facilities here for upcoming performance by her Samjiyon Orchestra.
She came a day later, apparently after Seoul gave assurances that she would not be bothered by reporters, who were kept away by a massive security detail.
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