Koreas to Resume Family Reunions

Korea Times
Lee Jin-woo

South and North Korea on Thursday agreed to resume the reunions of families separated since the Korean War by the two sides’ heavily fortified border, this May, Seoul’s Red Cross said.

After ending a two-day working-level inter-Korean meeting in Kaesong, the Korean National Red Cross (KNRC) in Seoul announced each side will have 100 separated family members meet their long-lost relatives at Mt. Kumgang, a scenic resort, in North Korea between May 9 and 14.

The two sides confirmed the date and other details about the reunions over the telephone and through liaison officials at the truce village of Panmunjom, it said.

They will exchange the whereabouts of the people next month and will disclose the final list of participants on April 27, it said.

The agreement came about two weeks after the 20th inter-Korean ministerial talks in Pyongyang. During the four-day meeting, the two Koreas agreed to resume face-to-face family reunions in early May, but did not set a date.

Since the historic inter-Korean summit in June 2000, South and North Korea have held 14 rounds of face-to-face family reunions.

At the Kaesong meeting, both sides failed to narrow differences on a trial run of cross-border trains, said Yang Chang-seok, spokesman of the Ministry of Unification.

“There were differences on when to start the joint cooperation project with the light industry and natural underground resources. Both sides agreed to continue the dialogue in the near future,’’ he said.

During the Cabinet talks earlier this month, Seoul and Pyongyang also agreed to carry out the test-run in the first half of this year although no exact schedule was set.

Last May, Pyongyang unilaterally notified Seoul that it would postpone the test-run just a day before the scheduled date, May 25, under apparent pressure from its hard-line military.

The Stalinist state cited two reasons for canceling the run _ the lack of security guarantees on both sides and the “extremely confrontational” climate in the South.

The aborted test-runs also nullified an economic accord under which South Korea was supposed to provide raw materials in exchange for access to the North’s minerals deposits.


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