Will family reunions help mend inter-Korean relations?Updated: 2014-02-06 14:36:24 (KST)
Will the resumption of reunions for divided families pave the way for improved relations between the two Koreas?
South Korean President Park Geun-hye expressed her hopes via her spokesperson on Thursday that the humanitarian event could open up a new era of inter-Korean relations.
"We hope the upcoming reunions will be a starting point for improved inter-Korean relations and serve as a foundation for opening up an era of reunification, bringing peace and cooperation to the Korean peninsula."
Wednesday's agreement to resume family reunions from February 20th to the 25th came as a surprise to many as it was reached in less than five hours of talks.
What's more surprising is that the dates overlap with South Korea's joint military drills with Washington.
North Korea had earlier warned the reunions could not take place amid gunfire, but the upcoming drills were not a major issue during the talks.
"There was no specific mention by North Korea of the South Korea-U.S. joint military drills nor a call for the military exercises to be canceled."
South Korea said it views the latest agreement as a positive sign.
Pyongyang has been cranking up its peace offensive this year, although many have questioned the regime's motives.
The Koreas left open the possibility of further cooperation, promising additional rounds of talks after the reunions to discuss a wide range of humanitarian issues, that could include South Korean food aid to the North.
But despite the friendlier tone, an air of skepticism lingers as North Korea has a history of breaking its promises, including its last-minute cancellation of a round of family reunions just last year.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News.
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