North Korea has informed South Korean authorities that it is canceling an inter-Korean event previously arranged to likely take place on February 4, the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) said on Monday.
According to the MOU, North Korea informed them that the cancelation has been made due to negative press coverage of the DPRK in South Korea and opposition to an “internal celebration” to be staged in the North.
North Korea announced at around 2210 KST that it will cancel the inter-Korean joint culture event, which had been agreed to be conducted on Feb. 4 at Mt. Kumgang, by sending the notice under the name of Ri Son Gwon, the MOU statement read.
“North Korea mentioned in the notice that they couldn’t help but cancel the agreed event as our side’s press argued about the North’s internal celebration,” the MoU said.
North Korea state media announced last week that it would mark the founding anniversary of its military on February 8 as satellite imagery suggested preparation for a series of events was already underway in the country’s capital.
The staging of military celebrations – and a likely military parade – had raised eyebrows amid warming inter-Korean ties and has been met with opposition in some quarters given its proximity to the PyeongChange Winter Olympic Games.
According to the MOU, North Korea added that it is canceling the inter-Korean event due to “insulting” South Korean press coverage of North Korea despite “sincere measures” the country has taken to attend PyeongChang.
During an annual New Year’s Day speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made overtures towards the South, which led to the staging of the first high-level inter-Korean meeting since December 2015. Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) led the North Korea delegation taking part in the initial talks on January 9.
Progress at subsequent talks has been rapid, with both sides reaching a series of agreements that include approval of North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang Olympics, a decision that athletes from both teams would march under a unified banner, a joint women’s ice hockey team, and the facilitation of the Samjiyon Orchestra as well as other cheering squads from the North and Japan.
The staging of the cultural event was another element of the talks and was virtually finalized with a 12-member South Korean delegation visiting North Korea between January 23 and 25 to assess the facilities at Mount Kumgang as well as to take part in the joint training of South and North Korean skiers at Masikryong Ski Resort.
“The South is considering performing modern and traditional music and hold a literacy event,” a South Korean official previously told NK News, adding the North will play the traditional music, and that Seoul had proposed to that K-pop be performed at the event as well.
Additional reporting by Dagyum Ji
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Featured Image: Mokrankwan Restaurant, Kumgangsan National Park, DPRK by Clay Gilliland on 2014-06-27 08:19:26