N. Koreans Fail to Pick Up List of Would-Be Visitors

From Reuters

Elderly South Koreans on Monday sent letters to long-lost relatives in the North at symbolic mailboxes south of the border, where Seoul officials waited in vain for the North to pick up a list of people who want to visit.

In an elaborate show, government officials brought more than 700 South Koreans who have relatives in the North to a government-sponsored rally at the Imjin River, just south of the demilitarized zone that divides the Koreas.

The South Koreans, most of them elderly, sent 4,000 letters to mailboxes labeled for the seven provinces of North Korea.

Catholic priests demanding entrance to attend a meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, three dissidents trying to test the government's conditional pledge to open the border and seven students protesting government policy also came to Imjingak.

No one got through, and the students were arrested.

In reality, North and South Korea, divided at the end of World War II, have no mail, phone or transportation links.

The two have also failed in their latest attempt at communication--the exchange of visits by citizens to celebrate the 45th anniversary of independence from Japan.

South Korean President Roh Tae Woo proposed last month that the border be opened for five days from Monday.

The proposal countered a Northern invitation for South Koreans to attend a rally at Panmunjom on Wednesday.

A total of 61,355 South Koreans applied to visit the North under Roh's proposal, but squabbling by both sides has doomed their hopes.

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