Just when it looked like North and South Korea were finally going to get together and play nice, officials in Pyongyang have called off scheduled high-level talks just one day before they were set to begin. The two nations were planning on a two-day meeting in Seoul that would have been the first conference of its kind in over six years, and one that many had hoped would finally put an end to months of belligerent behavior and an economic standoff on the Peninsula.
The new glitch apparently stems from a technical dispute over the relative rank of the delegates being sent to the talks. South Korea originally proposed sending their unification minister as their chief representative, but when the North responded with a lower ranking official, the South offered their deputy minister instead, causing the North to back out completely. It's a minor diplomatic tit-for-tat, but that one almost seems perfectly calculated to provide a convenient excuse for no talks at all.
The main goal of the talks was to try and restart the joint-factory complex that sits just north of the border in Kaesong that has been shuttered since April. It's one of the few remaining links between the two sides of the DMZ. At least the end of these negotiations wasn't accompanied by threats of flaming justice from above, but those who inadvertently got their hopes up for a little peace and quite are going to be disappointed once again, even if China has "muted" the North Korean propaganda machine a bit lately.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.