North Korea threatens to pull out of family reunions
February 6, 2014 -- Updated 1838 GMT (0238 HKT)
- SK minister: "The agreement must be kept"
- The reunions will take place between February 20 and 25, South Korea says
- North Korea canceled previously scheduled reunions last year
- Tensions remain over U.S.-South Korean drills
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea says it may back out of the family reunions it agreed to hold with South Korea if the latter continues with the annual drills it holds with the United States.
Annual military exercises in the region by South Korean and U.S. forces are scheduled for the end of this month.
"The reckless act of war is a violent violation and infringement of humanitarianism," a spokesman for the North Korean Policy Department of the National Defense Commission said Thursday.
"It does not make sense to carry out the reunion of families, who were separated due to the War, during a dangerous nuclear war practice."
The drills, the South Korean defense ministry said Thursday, will go on.
The reunions of about 100 people from each country are scheduled to take place between February 20 and 25, the South Korean unification ministry said Wednesday, following face-to-face talks between the two sides.
If they go ahead, the meetings of divided Korean families would be the first to take place since 2010.
North Korea has unceremoniously pulled the plug on such meetings in the past.
"If such agreements get turned around repeatedly, it cannot move forward," South Korean Unification Minister Rhoo Kihl-jae told reporters. "We've seen these in the past several decades. To expand the trust, I want to say that the agreement must be kept."
Koreans push for family reunions
Drills infuriate N.Korea
The drills infuriate North Korea, which says it sees them as a prelude to an invasion. Last year, it ratcheted up its threatening rhetoric to alarming levels as the exercises took place.
In its calls so far this year for better relations, North Korea has asked South Korea not to take part in the drills -- a request that Seoul and Washington have rejected.
Reunions were due to take place last September, but Pyongyang canceled them with only a few days notice, accusing Seoul of souring ties between the two countries.
The reunions are an emotive issue. And time is running out for many of the surviving members of the families that were split by the 1950-53 war between the two Koreas. A lot of them are now in their 80s and 90s.
Tens of thousands of people in South Korea are on the list of those wanting to take part in the reunions.
This month's planned reunions are scheduled to take place at the site where previous ones were held: Mount Kumgang, a resort on the North Korean side of the border that used to be jointly operated by both sides.
North Korea blames South, cancels family reunions in September
Part of complete coverage on
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Experts warn that under Kim Jong Un's rule, Pyongyang has shown an even greater willingness to raise the stakes than before.
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
China and North Korea criticize a U.N. report that found crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
March 17, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
Megumi Yokota was only 13 when she was abducted by a North Korean agent in the 1970s. What happened after that?
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 0430 GMT (1230 HKT)
Report: North Korea uses multiple techniques to defy sanctions, and shows no signs of abandoning its nuclear missile programs.
February 21, 2014 -- Updated 0817 GMT (1617 HKT)
Families torn apart for more than 60 years -- separated by the Korean War -- began to reunite at a mountain resort in North Korea Thursday.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
A stunning catalog of torture and the widespread abuse of even the weakest of North Koreans reveal a portrait of a brutal state, the UN reported.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0431 GMT (1231 HKT)
Former prisoners in North Korea describe horrific stories of being tortured by authorities.
February 14, 2014 -- Updated 1527 GMT (2327 HKT)
Skiing is not the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about the isolated nation, but North Korea's ski resort is world class.
February 8, 2014 -- Updated 0315 GMT (1115 HKT)
American Kenneth Bae, who is being held in North Korea, has been moved from a hospital to a labor camp.
January 8, 2014 -- Updated 0213 GMT (1013 HKT)
Why is he being held by North Korea in a prison camp? These are the questions for many since his arrest in the isolated country in 2012.
January 27, 2014 -- Updated 0818 GMT (1618 HKT)
The first time the South Korean factory owner watched his North Korean employees nibble on a Choco Pie, they appeared shocked.
January 8, 2014 -- Updated 0126 GMT (0926 HKT)
Dennis Rodman's "Big Bang in Pyongyang" may be in a league of its own, but other stars too have mixed with repressive regimes before.
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrives in North Korea to train basketball players, state-run media reports.
December 18, 2013 -- Updated 0250 GMT (1050 HKT)
The nation held a memorial in the honor of former North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il on the second anniversary of his death.
December 13, 2013 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
Days after he was removed from his powerful military post, Jang Song Thaek was called a traitor and executed.
Today's five most popular stories