Cross Border Family Reunions Scheduled for August

Troy Young, June 26, 2018, 8:45 a.m.

The two Koreas have agreed to resume reunions of families separated by the Korean War on Aug. 20-26. The two sides agreed in inter-Korean Red Cross talks at Mt. Kumgang in North Korea last Friday that the reunions will take place at a dedicated facility there. They will be the first reunions in two years and 10 months.

One hundred participants from each side will be reunited with family members from the other side. Those with limited mobility can bring a relative to help them. The two sides also agreed that families torn apart by the 1950-1953 war can send letters enquiring whether their family members are still alive and well by July 3. Confirmation letters are to be sent by July 25, and the final lists of participants will be drawn up on Aug. 4.

South Korea will send an advance team to Mt. Kumgang five days before the reunions to make preparations. Another team will visit on Wednesday to see if any repairs to the venue are needed. But the two sides failed to agree on making the reunions a regular fixture. South Korea proposed letting all separated families exchange letters and visit each other's hometowns, but the North refused.

The South argued the current practice of letting just 100 or 200 people meet at long intervals can never solve the problem as thousands are still waiting and are mostly very old. But the North opposed the move, apparently because it is wary of too many North Korean coming in contact with the South.

North Korean delegates also brought up the contentious issue of North Korean women who defected from a restaurant in China in April 2016. The North claimed they were abducted by South Korea and wants them sent back. The South Korean delegates in turn called for the release of six South Koreans detained in the North.

But the two sides did not argue further and rather focused on the family reunions to avoid spoiling the conciliatory mood.

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