Tearful reunion: 181 South Koreans to meet separated family in North on Aug. 20-26


One hundred eighty one elderly Koreans _ 93 from the South and 88 from the North, will meet their relatives during a reunion of separated families scheduled from Aug. 20 to 26.

The list was finalized and exchanged between the Red Cross organizations of the South and North, Saturday, through the truce village of Panmunjeom in the Demilitarized Zone, according to the Ministry of Unification.

The 93 South Koreans will reunite with their North Korean relatives from Aug. 20 to 22 at North Korea’s scenic resort on Mount Geumgang. The 88 North Koreans will have a separate reunion from Aug. 24 to 26 at the same venue.

The weeklong cross-border reunion also celebrates the Aug. 15 anniversary of the Korean Peninsula’s liberation from the 1910-45 Japanese occupation.

It will take place in line with an agreement reached between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their April 27 summit.

The two leaders struck the deal to address humanitarian issues and the serious nature of the dwindling number of family members separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

From the South Korean side, 35 people are aged 90 or older, including a 101-year-old man and a 100-year-old woman, according to the ministry.

Sixty two North Koreans are in their 80s, including an 89-year-old woman.

The participants will be comprised of 68 men and 25 women from the South and 46 men and 42 women from the North.

The 93 South Koreans will gather in the border city of Sokcho in Gangwon Province, Aug. 19, where they will be briefed by the South’s Red Cross officials before heading to Mount Geumgang the next day.

The two Koreas have not had family reunions since October 2015 during the conservative government of Park Geun-hye.

They have held 20 rounds of face-to-face family reunions since the first inter-Korean summit in June 2000.

According to the ministry, 132,123 South Koreans applied in May to meet their family members but that only 57,000 of the latter were found to be alive in the North.

South Korea earlier selected 500 applicants through a computer lottery, after the two Koreas agreed over the number of people to join the reunion during Red Cross talks in June.

That number was later reduced to 250 considering age, health and other relevant factors, before the list was finalized.

Seoul has constantly asked to resume the reunions but failed because the North sought to link it to economic aid that was banned under the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions imposed on the North for its nuclear activities.

The Kim regime also had offered to resume the reunions in exchange for return of North Korean restaurant workers who Pyongyang claims were kidnapped by South Korean agents.


By Yi Whan-woo

(Korea Times)

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