South Korea proposes family reunions next month
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Monday proposed that the rival Koreas restart arranging reunions next month for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
North Korea last week agreed to resume the reunions by letting South Korea choose dates for the humanitarian program. The move was the latest in a recent series of conciliatory gestures North Korea has taken in a sharp contrast from last spring when the country raised tension with threats of nuclear wars.
Analysts say the North needs better ties with the outside world to help draw foreign investment and aid.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Monday that it sent a message proposing that the reunions to take place from Feb. 17-22 at a North Korean mountain.
Seoul has proposed working-level talks on Jan. 29 to discuss details about the reunions, according to the ministry statement.
North Korea didn’t immediately respond to the South Korean proposals.
Millions of Koreans have been separated since the Korean War which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The two Koreas share one of the world’s most heavily fortified borders and bar ordinary citizens from exchanging letters, phone calls and emails.
About 22,000 North and South Koreans have had a chance to briefly meet with their long-lost relatives during a period of detente but family reunions have never been held since October 2010 amid tension between the Koreas.
The Koreas had agreed to resume the humanitarian program last September but North Korea abruptly canceled the plan.