North Korean delegate Hwang Chol, left, shakes hands with Kim Ki-woong, director-general of the Unification Ministry's Special Office for Inter-Korean Dialogue. Photo Courtesy of Republic of Korea Ministry of Unification
SEOUL, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Delegates of North and South Korea met for working-level talks on Thursday in the truce village of Panmunjom but the initial round of dialogue yielded few results.
The meeting was the first between Seoul and Pyongyang since high-level negotiations defused border tensions on Aug. 25, when North Korea had declared a semi-state of war.
Yonhap reported the encounter began on a promising note, with both sides exchanging pleasantries marked by smiles and handshakes.
Hwang Chol, the high-level official with Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, greeted South Korea's Kim Ki-woong, director-general of the Unification Ministry's Special Office for Inter-Korean Dialogue, with a customary Korean greeting and exchanged handshakes with Kim Choon-whan, a director at the South's Ministry.
But a communication channel that links the Panmunjom meeting place, on the North's side, with Pyongyang and Seoul experienced a malfunction, and the meeting was delayed for two hours, and talks did not begin until 12:50 p.m., Seoul time.
The first round of talks lasted about 90 minutes but South Korean news network MBN reported differing views on hot-button issues and "formalities" regarding further, higher-level talks between the two governments may have resulted in an impasse on Thursday.
The South is likely to have proposed a meeting between Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo and Kim Yang Gon, North Korea's director of the United Front Department of the Korean Workers' Party. But Pyongyang may have been unwilling to volunteer such a high-ranking official, South Korea press reported.
Others issues that could have been raised include the South Korean May 24 economic sanctions, the resumption of an inter-Korea tourism program to North Korea's Mount Kumgang region and North-South family reunions.
In 2013, North-South talks collapsed due to a failure on both sides to agree on who should lead the delegations.