Koreas to hold family reunions this October

The two Koreas have held on-and-off temporary reunions of families that remain separated since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Last Updated: Oct 02, 2010, 18:15 PM IST

Seoul: North and South Korea have agreed to hold the next reunion of families separated by the Korean War from October 30 to November 5 at the North`s Mt Kumgang resort, according to the South`s Unification Ministry and the North`s official media.

The agreement, which ends a weeks-long deadlock, was reached during Red Cross talks between the two sides held at the North`s border city of Kaesong yesterday.

The two sides also agreed to hold more talks on October 26 and 27 at Kaesong, with the North`s official Korean Central News Agency saying they are intended "to solve humanitarian issues including the matter of putting the reunion on a normal basis."

After the landmark inter-Korean summit in 2000, the two Koreas have held on-and-off temporary reunions of families that remain separated since the 1950-1953 Korean War. The two previous rounds of Red Cross talks, which were held on August 17 and 24, were bogged down due to disagreement over the venue for the reunions.

KCNA said the North Korean side agreed to meet the South`s request for the Seoul-financed Mt. Kumgang Reunion Center at the joint resort there to be used as a reunion venue "with magnanimity out of noble compatriotism and from humanitarian stand."

The North had earlier demanded the South to resume cross-border tours to its scenic Mt Kumgang before the reunion center, while Seoul has refused to tie the reunions to the tours, which stopped after a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier in July 2008 after apparently wandering into a restricted area.

Yesterday`s agreement calls for the event, involving 100 families from each side, to be held alternately at the Seoul-financed reunion center and the North`s Kumgangsan Hotel.

KCNA said that thanks to the North`s "positive and sincere efforts" both countries arrived at the agreement. "This made it possible to bring great joy to all Koreans in the north and the south and overseas desirous of successful realization of the reunion of separated families and relatives," it said.

The two countries held their last family reunion event in September and October last year.

PTI