North Korea And South Korea To Resume Family Reunions Next Month
North Korea and South Korea agreed today to resume a reunion program at the end of September for families who were separated by the Korean War more than half a century ago.
After three days of discussion, Red Cross officials from the two sides - Pyongyang and Seoul - have announced in a joint statement that reunions for separated families during the 1950-53 war will be held from September 26 to October 1, allowing 100 selected people to reunite with their family members from the other side of the border.
At the Red Cross meeting, both sides stood firm on their principles and yet demonstrated flexibility. The South Korean delegation stressed the non-political nature of the reunions. It called for regular reunions and the resolution of issues involving South Korean prisoners of war and abductees.
A previous series of reunions allowed 1,600 families to visit one another, but the program was canceled by Pyongyang two years ago over some of the hardline policies of newly elected conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
The recent meetings were the first semi-governmental talks between the two Koreas under the Lee Myung-bak administration. Not that they have agreed to "continue to discuss humanitarian issues from the standpoint of developing inter-Korean relations," it can be expected that there will be more room in the future for additional reunions for tens of thousands of Korean families, who have been separated by minefields and barbed wire for years.