North, South Korea Agree  to Hold Family Reunions

North, South Korea Agree to Hold Family Reunions

North and South Korea agreed Tuesday to hold reunions next month of families separated by the Korean War in the early 1950s, a small but important bit of progress for rivals that just last month were threatening each other with war.
One hundred mostly elderly people from each country will be reunited with their relatives Oct. 20-26 at the Diamond Mountain resort in North Korea, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry and North Korean state media, AP reported.
The decision came after overnight talks among the Koreas’ Red Cross officials at the border village of Panmunjom that began Monday. The Koreas initially agreed to push for the reunions after striking a deal last month that eased a standoff that had flared after a mine explosion blamed on Pyongyang maimed two South Korean soldiers.
The highly emotional reunions have not happened since early last year. But even Tuesday’s announcement does not guarantee success. The rivals have a long history of failing to follow through on reconciliation efforts.
South Korean officials have long called for holding reunions more regularly and expanding the number of people taking part. North Korea is seen as worrying that doing so could open the country to influence from more affluent South Korea and threaten the ruling party’s grip on power.
The two Koreas remain divided along the world’s most heavily fortified border since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.


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