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Talks on Family Visits Falter Over An Opera

November 21, 1989

PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) _ Talks between North Korea and South Korea to allow separated families to visit each other faltered Tuesday over the communist nation’s insistence on broadcasting a revolutionary opera by the North Korean leader on South Korean TV.

Although Red Cross delegates from the two sides agreed to continue discussions Monday, prospects for an agreement appeared slim.

North Korea’s chief delegate Pak Yong Su urged South Korea to accept the opera, contending that ″all the South Korean people want to see it.″

South Korean officials denounced North Korea for injecting political propaganda into the humanitarian project.

The opera, by North Korean President Kim Il Sung, glorifies him and his late mother, Kim Jung Suk.

″The prospect of the family exchange is dark as long as the North Korean side sticks to its plan to show a revolutionary opera encouraging class struggle,″ South Korea’s senior delegate Song Young-dae said after the eight- hour talks.

Talks on the proposed exchange reopened in September after several months of stalemate.

Delegates meeting at this truce village inside the Demilitarized Zone overcame one problem Tuesday when they agreed on the numbers: an exchange of 571-member delegations for four days, starting Dec. 8.

South Korea said its delegation would consist of a leader, 350 separated family members, 150 entertainers, 40 support personnel and 30 reporters.

North Korea opted for more entertainers, saying it would send a leader, 300 divided family members, 200 entertainers, 40 support personnel and 30 reporters.

But they could not agree on terms for their entertainers to perform live on each other’s television stations.

North Korea demanded four segments of air time, each lasting at least three hours. South Korea, revising its original proposal, offered three segments of 2 1/2 hours each.

North Korea insisted it needed at least three hours at one time to present the revolutionary opera.

Angry Seoul officials strongly indicated South Korea would not accept North Korea’s showing of the opera.

There are about 10 million separated family members in the two nations, which were divided by the partition of the Korean peninsula in 1945 and the Korean War in 1950-53.

The Red Cross talks are one of several channels of dialogue under way to help ease tension on the peninsula. Other talks on sports, political and parliamentary contacts have made little progress.

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