South Korea proposes inter-Korean family reunions in mid-FebruaryUpdated: 2014-01-28 06:28:42 (KST)
Families separated since the Korean War will have the chance to see each other again in mid-February, if North Korea agrees to South Korea's offer made on Monday.
"Considering the wishes of the separated families, we proposed holding a round of family reunions at Mount Kumgangsan resort from February 17th to the 22nd, for six days."
This follows Pyongyang's surprise proposal on Friday that the reunions resume at a convenient time for Seoul after the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls at the end of this week.
South Korea's Unification Ministry said the proposed dates are flexible and asked to hold working-level talks on Wednesday at the truce village of Panmunjom to fine-tune the details.
Pyongyang may want a later date, some time after the joint military drills between Seoul and Washington which begin at the end of February.
Despite North Korea's repeated calls to cancel what it views as war games, South Korea made clear that the humanitarian event and the military training exercises are two separate matters.
"When we selected the date, we considered the preparation process at Mount Kumgang and the urgency of holding family reunions. The joint military drills between South Korea and the U.S. were not considered."
Millions of Koreans were separated from their loved ones when the country was divided more than six decades ago.
Around 72-thousand South Koreans are on a waiting list for a chance to meet their families one last time, but it's been three years now since the last reunions.
"If the event takes place next month, 1-hundred divided family members who were selected for last year's canceled reunions will meet with their loved ones. However, a handful of these aging relatives have fallen ill since then, underscoring the urgency of resuming the long-suspended reunions.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News."
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