According to Yonhap:
South Korea has turned down a request by two umbrella labor unions to visit North Korea for talks with their counterparts, an official said Thursday, attesting to ongoing hostilities between the sides.
South Korea’s two main umbrella unions — the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions — applied for permission earlier this week to send four of their members to the North Korean border town of Kaesong for talks with their northern counterparts. They hoped to discuss possibilities for another general meeting among their members, the last of which was held in 2007 before inter-Korean relations grew tense.
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korean affairs, rejected the visit planned for Thursday, citing a breach of regulations enforced after last year’s deadly sinking of a South Korean warship. Seoul blames Pyongyang for the March torpedo attack that killed 46 South Korean sailors, an allegation that the North vehemently denies.
“Not only is it required by law to apply for permission at least a week in advance, but our nationals are currently prohibited from visiting North Korea” under a set of post-attack measures that also ban cross-border trade, a ministry official said on customary condition of anonymity.
The two labor groups were informed of the decision on Wednesday, he added.
In protest, the KCTU held a rally outside the main government complex in Seoul earlier in the day, saying the ministry denied “the earnest request of workers from the South and North who long for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
“We will achieve a South-North workers’ general meeting at all costs even if we can’t be together in one place,” the KCTU said in a statement, indicating it may issue a joint statement with its North Korean counterparts after holding separate meetings in Seoul and Pyongyang.
Read the full story here:
Gov’t rejects labor groups’ request to visit N. Korea