Fam­ily re­unions on di­vided penin­sula to re­sume

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE -

SEOUL Re­unions of fam­i­lies sep­a­rated since the Korean War will re­sume in Au­gust, as part of the fast-mov­ing en­gage­ment be­tween two Koreas, Red Cross en­voys said yes­ter­day af­ter meet­ings in North Korea.

The re­unions will take place over six days be­gin­ning on Au­gust 20, the first such event since 2015 to bring to­gether fam­i­lies di­vided for nearly seven decades.

About 100 peo­ple from each side will take part in the gath­er­ings on North Korea’s Mt Kum­gang, a re­sort about 15km north of the de­mil­i­tarised zone be­tween North and South Korea.

Set­ting a clear plan for the re­unions had been a pri­or­ity of the gov­ern­ment of South Korea’s pres­i­dent, Moon Jae-in. He ac­com­pa­nied his mother to a past re­u­nion in 2004, when he was serv­ing in a pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment that sought en­gage­ment with North Korea.

But a joint state­ment by na­tional Red Cross del­e­ga­tions from North and South Korea did not touch on other sen­si­tive is­sues that have com­pli­cated fam­ily re­u­nion at­tempts in re­cent years.

They in­clude North Korea’s de­mand for the re­turn of 12 North Korean restau­rant work­ers who left China in 2016 and re­set­tled in South Korea. Seoul claims the women will­ingly de­fected. South Korea, mean­while, seeks the re­turn of six peo­ple de­tained in the North.

Nearly 20,000 peo­ple have taken part in 20 rounds of re­unions held be­tween the coun­tries since 2000, but plans have been shelved in re­cent years by the South to protest nu­clear and mis­sile tests by the regime of Kim Jong Un. Wash­ing­ton Post

PHOTO: AP

South Korean Jo Soon-jeon, 83, right, looks at fam­ily pho­tos with her North Korean sis­ters dur­ing a re­u­nion in 2015. North and South Korean of­fi­cials are work­ing out the de­tails for another re­u­nion.

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