SEOUL, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- North Korea slammed South Korea's unification minister in response to a seemingly benign comment he had made regarding inter-Korea family reunions.
Hong Yong-pyo had said Wednesday he would continue to pursue efforts to overcome the obstacles facing the prospects of future family reunions, in the wake of North Korea's nuclear test and the "serious predicament" of North-South relations, News 1 reported.
North Korea's state-controlled outlet Uriminzokkiri condemned the statement and said Pyongyang is "speechless" at the South for tossing out a "golden opportunity" to resume family reunions.
The North Korean outlet, which frequently targets a South Korean audience, stated Friday, local time, that South Korea was prying into an issue between Pyongyang and Washington, while pilfering North-South relations with a "maniacal intra-Korean commotion."
"Even mentioning the 'family reunions' at this stage for the [South Korea] puppets is the ultimate effrontery," Pyongyang said in statement, adding Seoul is trying to diffuse criticism of mishandled affairs by blaming the North for tensions.
North Korea said it proposed talks to reopen Mount Kumgang to South Korean tourists but that the South had refused Pyongyang's terms of offer.
South Korea remains on high alert after the North's announced plans to launch an "earth observation satellite" – which critics say is a cover for a test of Pyongyang's ballistic missile technology.
Seoul's Unification Ministry said Friday the government will be operating under an emergency response system over the Lunar New Year holiday weekend, which ends Feb. 8.
Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said a jointly operated factory park in the North Korean city of Kaesong would continue to run despite tensions, and Seoul is to take measures to strengthen the safety of South Korean nationals at the site.
Jeong said the North's comments regarding the family reunions should be dismissed, as they are "not worth a reply."