After abruptly calling off scheduled meetings with three South Korean civic groups, the North Korean Committee for Implementation of the June 15th Joint Declaration spoke face-to-face with its South Korean counterpart on Thursday.
According to the South Korean Implementation Committee, the North said they had to cancel the planned meetings because the objectives were being distorted through the South Korean media.
The group added they wanted to discuss ways to resolve the current impasse in inter-Korean relations but the South Korean media were highlighting some other (quote)"secondary" issues.
The meetings that two other civic groups, the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation and Movement for One Korea, were supposed to have with their North Korean counterparts remain cancelled.
The South Korean Committee added that they agreed they face a (quote)"grave situation" now where inter-Korean ties could either move forward or make a U-turn back to the past.
The groups promised to sincerely implement inter-Korean summit declarations (quote)"autonomously."
The word "autonomous" is a term North Korea uses to urge the South to stop heeding what the U.S. thinks in cooperating with the North.
Experts say that the overall deadlock in North Korea-U.S. nuclear talks and Pyeongyang's discontent towards Seoul lie behind the last-minute cancellation of the meetings.
"The North is not satisfied with how South Korea isn't starting cooperation projects with the North and continues to stand alongside the U.S. and keep mediating."
"It seems the North was dissatisfied with the reports in South Korea which
depicted the North as if it would come back to the negotiation table if food aid or humanitarian aid is offered and civic exchanges take place."
U.S. seizure of a North Korean ship, Wise Honest, could also be the factor.
The North called for the meeting with South Korean civic groups earlier this month, but with its ship seized afterwards, watchers say Pyeongyang turned its back to express discontent toward Seoul.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.