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South Korea urges talks on family reunions

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South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has called for new talks with North Korea on allowing families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War to exchange letters and hold video conferences.

Park urged her cabinet on Tuesday to push for talks with North Korea on letter exchanges and video reunions for separated families.

“Many families do not have time to wait any more,” said Park, adding that more than 6,000 people every year should be allowed to meet with relatives from the other side.

The South Korean presidential office said the annual figure would allow all separated families to see their loved ones at least once before they die.

Last week, South Korea made a formal proposal to North Korea to hold family reunions on regular basis, but Pyongyang has not responded to the offer.

Millions of Koreans who were split by war have been waiting to reunite since the Korean War ended in a ceasefire in 1953. No peace deal has been signed since then, meaning that North and South Korea remain technically at war.

The two Koreas have held 19 family reunions since the first event in 1985. The latest one took place between February 20 and 25 at North Korea’s Mount Kumgang resort, during which more than 800 family members met.

Some 22,000 Koreans have had the chance to briefly meet with relatives. Some 18,000 of those Koreans have met relatives in person and the remaining have seen each other by video.

Neither North Korea nor South Korea has ever allowed a second chance for their citizens to meet their relatives across the border. Both countries forbid ordinary citizens from visiting each other and even exchanging phone calls, letters and emails.


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