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Two Koreas begin discussions on resuming family reunions

Updated: 2014-02-05 PM 12:13:49 (KST)
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Officials from the two Koreas have been locked in working-level talks on this Wednesday to discuss the details for resuming reunions for families separated since the Korean War.
The reunions, if held, would be the first in more than three years.
For more, we are going to connect to our correspondent Hwang Sung-hee at the Unification Ministry.
So Sung-hee, a big day ahead what details do we have right now?

Today's working-level talks began at around 10 a.m. Korea time and the morning session lasted for about 40 minutes.
No details have been released yet but this is when the two sides exchanged their stances.
For now, since it is lunch time here in Korea, the officials are taking a break to have something to eat.
Earlier in the day, the head of the South Korean delegation told reporters as he was departing for the truce village of Panmunjom, that he would try to bring home good news for the divided families by reaching a positive agreement today.
The two sides may have a long day ahead of them, as they will be sorting out details, such as the date and the location of the reunion.
South Korea had earlier proposed holding the event from February 17th to the 22nd at North Korea's Mt. Kumgang resort, but this may not be a viable option anymore as officials in Seoul say they need at least two weeks to prepare.
Another issue is that North Korea will most likely want to push the date back to some time after joint military drills between South Korea and the United States that are scheduled to begin late this month.
Experts say the North could make a counterproposal on the reunion dates that would have the event taking place after the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises, which end in April.

We've seen North Korea back out of agreements many times in the past is there a vibe that Pyongyang might once again have a sudden change of heart and scrap plans for the reunions?

That's a very difficult question to answer because North Korea is, of course, one of the most unpredictable regimes in the world.
But yes, as you say, North Korea does have a history of breaking promises and in fact, it cancelled a round of family reunions just last year at the last minute, to the disappointment of hundreds of divided family members.
Experts I've spoke with say such a scenario is very likely this time around as well.
That is, if South Korea and the United States push ahead with their joint military drills.
They say the North may call off the reunions and blame it on the South for sticking to its aggressive nature despite North Korea's willingness to improve relations.
Seoul maintains that humanitarian issues, like the family reunions, should be dealt with separately from military drills.
So there is still a tug-of-war going on between the two Koreas and we are still uncertain about North Korea's motives.
But one thing to keep in mind is that hundreds of thousands of divided families are waiting to reunite for the first time in more than six decades and time is running out for the elderly family members to see their loved ones again one last time.

We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that the two sides can reach a solid agreement to hold the reunions.
Thank you for your report, Sung-hee.
That was our Hwang Sung-hee reporting on the working-level talks between the Koreas on resuming the long-suspended family reunions.


Reporter : ssung86@arirang.co.kr

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