Koreas hold talks on arranging reunion of separated families in August

By Lim Chang-won Posted : June 22, 2018, 15:41 Updated : June 22, 2018, 15:41

South and North Korean delegates meet in the North's Mount Kumgang resort to arrange family reunions. [Yonhap News Photo]

MOUNT KUMGANG, North Korea (Joint Press Corps) -- North Korea called for a decisive break with the past in inter-Korean humanitarian cooperation Friday at talks on arranging a fresh round of reunions for separate families in August, almost three years after the highly emotional event stopped at the height of cross-border tensions.

A landmark peace declaration signed by South and North Korean leaders at a summit in April contained an agreement to hold a reunion of separated families on the occasion of August 15 when the two Koreas mark their liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

"Something that can not even be imagined in the past between North and South Korea is unfolding," Pak Yong-il, the North's chief delegate, said at the start of talks in the North's Mount Kumgang resort, according to pool reports.

"When we have a decisive break with the past with a new mind and a right mindset, I think that inter-Korean humanitarian cooperation will be smoothly solved," he said.

Millions of people were displaced by the sweep of the Korean conflict, which ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically at war. Direct cross-border exchanges of letters or telephone calls are banned.

Family reunions were held annually since the historic inter-Korean summit in 2000, but they came to a halt in March 2010 due to high military tensions. Seoul has prioritized family reunions as divided family members are aged and many of them died. Government data showed there are about 60,000 South Koreans who wait to meet their loved ones in the North.

Pyongyang has long manipulated the issue as a tool for extracting concessions from Seoul, rejecting South Korean requests for frequent family gatherings. 
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