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North, South Korea cancel joint event, but collaborate on archaeology dig

The plan to hold a joint event on June 15 was canceled, but the two Koreas are collaborating on an archaeology project in the North Korean town of Kaesong.

By
Elizabeth Shim
North Korea has decided not to hold a joint event on June 15, but the reclusive country has agreed on a six-month archaeology project with the South, in Kaesong, North Korea. File Photo by Yonhap
North Korea has decided not to hold a joint event on June 15, but the reclusive country has agreed on a six-month archaeology project with the South, in Kaesong, North Korea. File Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, June 2 (UPI) -- Talks of an inter-Korea event to observe the June 15th North–South Joint Declaration collapsed between Seoul and Pyongyang, but the two Koreas agreed to a joint archaeology project.

On Tuesday, the South Korean civic group responsible for the talks said North Korea counterparts delivered a letter saying the event would be better if held separately, the Korea Herald reported.

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Without giving specific reasons, North Korea said, "Unless there is a change in the fundamental position of the South, no amount of working-level contact to prepare for the event will bring good results."

Pyongyang's reluctance came on the same day North Korea's state newspaper Rodong Sinmun condemned the joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea. North Korea called the drills a "war provocation scheme" on Tuesday.

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North Korea's state media identified the drills by their names, and claimed Key Resolve, Foal Eagle and Ulchi Freedom Guardian were rehearsals for a preemptive attack on North Korea.

In the same publication, North Korea credited its government for doing its "utmost to improve [inter-Korea] relations," by following the precepts of the June 15th Joint Declaration despite the ongoing "disgraceful" state of affairs under South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Despite the spike in military tensions, Seoul's Unification Ministry announced Sunday that North Korea has permitted South Korean historians and officials to collaborate with North Koreans on an archaeological dig near the North Korean border town of Kaesong.

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The project will last six months, and began with 11 South Koreans traveling to the North on Monday. Close to 70 other South Koreans are to work in North Korea on the site of an ancient Korean palace in the coming six months, according to Yonhap.

A Unification Ministry official said, "It's unusual for [North and South Korea] to agree on a six-month period for a joint archaeological survey."

Yonhap reported the Manwoldae site was a project of great concern for late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

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