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S. Koreans make unauthorized contact with N. Koreans in China

All Headlines 16:34 February 07, 2017

SHENYANG, China, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- Officials from South and North Korean civic groups met in China on Tuesday to discuss ways to promote exchanges between the two Koreas despite Seoul's opposition to their unauthorized contact.

The two Koreas' committees for the joint implementation of the June 15 summit declaration kicked off a two-day conference that runs through Wednesday in Shenyang, according to an official from South Korea.

Topics for the meeting are known to include football matches for teams from the labor unions of the two countries and the formation of a joint cheering squad for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Seoul's unification ministry rejected a request by the South Korean civic group to meet with their North Korean counterparts, citing inter-Korean tensions.

"(We) are facing a grave security situation as North Korea has continued to threaten and make provocative acts," Jeong Joon-hee, a ministry spokesman, said at a regular press briefing on Monday. "The government does not see such inter-Korean civilian exchanges as proper against this backdrop."

The government has suspended almost all inter-Korean exchanges and South Korean visits to North Korea since the North's fourth nuclear test in January last year.

Any trip to the North requires the Seoul government's approval, as well as the North's consent. The two Koreas are technically in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

"The meeting is being held as we believe that inter-Korean exchanges should be maintained at least at the non-government level," said Lee Seung-hwan, a spokesman for the South's committee.

A ministry official said that unauthorized contact with North Koreans will entail fines for violators under the law on inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation.

Officials from South and North Korea's committees for the joint implementation of the June 15 summit declaration meet in Shenyang on Feb. 7, 2017, to discuss ways to enhance inter-Korean civilian exchanges. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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