Koreas to hold reunions for war-separated families in August

Koreas to hold reunions for war-separated families in August

korea family reunion
North Koreans (in the bus) grip hands of their South Korean relatives as they bid farewell after a separated family reunion meeting at the Mount Kumgang resort on the North's southeastern coast on Oct 22, 2015. (File photo: AFP/POOL/The Korea Press Photographers Association)

SEOUL: North and South Korea agreed on Friday (Jun 22) to resume reunions in August for families separated by the Korean War. It would be the first such meetings since 2015 and the latest step in a remarkable diplomatic thaw on the peninsula.

The reunions will be held from Aug 20 to Aug 26 in the North's scenic Mount Kumgang resort, said a joint statement released after an inter-Korean Red Cross meeting.

A hundred families from each side will be selected to participate, Yonhap news agency reported.

South Korean officials will begin inspections of Mount Kumgang resort from next week and the two sides will exchange their final lists of participants by Aug 4.

Friday's meeting between the two delegations, held at a hotel on Mount Kumgang, was attended by the head of Korean Red Cross Park Kyung-seo, who led South Korea's four-member delegation, and Pak Yong Il, vice chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, who led North Korea's three-member delegation. 

South Korea's delegation leader Park and North Korea's delegation leader Pak shake hands
South Korea's delegation leader Park and North Korea's delegation leader Pak shake hands during their meeting on Mount Kumgang, North Korea

Millions of people were separated during the 1950-1953 conflict that sealed the division of the peninsula. The resumption of the family reunions was one of the agreements reached between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South's president Moon Jae-in at their landmark summit in April.

South Korean officials have called for the reunions to be conducted from a humanitarian perspective, as many of the affected family members are now in their 80s.

Past reunions, some televised, have often unleashed floods of tears, with the face-to-face encounters having to end in painful separations.

Source: Agencies/na

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