South Korean activists from various social circles called on the government Thursday to send a special envoy to North Korea and engage the communist nation in talks over the tense security situation on the Korean Peninsula.
The calls come amid signs that North Korea is preparing to launch a mid-range missile from its east coast in another provocation against its southern neighbor and the United States.
In a press conference at Seoul's Gwanghwamun square, a group of 18 people, including liberal lawmakers and social and labor activists, urged President Park Geun-hye to "immediately and unconditionally" engage in talks with the North in order to prevent a war.
"This is not the time to engage in a battle of wits. President Park should reach out first by sending a special envoy to the North," a member of the group said.
They also expressed regret at the North's withdrawal of North Korean workers from the inter-Korean industrial park in the communist country's border city of Kaesong, saying the complex should be allowed to operate again.
A group of student activists hold a news conference calling on the government to send a special envoy to North Korea at a square in central Seoul on April 11, 2013.
In a separate news conference at the same square, a group of student activists called for an end to military action and a start to peace talks between the Koreas.
The two Koreas remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
Reading out a peace declaration signed by 10,000 university students, one student said, "Unless (the government) wants to hurt people's lives through the mutual destruction (of the two Koreas), it should take action for peace on the Korean Peninsula by sending a special envoy to the North before it is too late."
The government has so far expressed reservations about dispatching an envoy, saying the move is unlikely to ease tensions under the current circumstances.
Meanwhile, a group of conservative activists gathered outside Seoul Station and called for more effective international sanctions against the communist regime to punish it for its repeated war threats.