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Acting president pledges constant efforts to address separated families issue

All News 14:20 January 23, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on Monday pledged to make constant efforts to address the issue of families separated by the inter-Korean border following the 1950-53 Korean War.

During a luncheon meeting for some of the families with long-lost loved ones in the North, Hwang also urged Pyongyang to respond to Seoul's demands such as verifying whether the members of their divided families in the North are still alive or dead.

"The (Seoul) government is well aware of the historical gravity of the issue of separated families, and will make every effort to help resolve it," Hwang said, portraying the issue as an "urgent" humanitarian one.

South Korea's Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn speaks during a luncheon meeting for some families with kin in North Korea at his residence in Seoul on Jan. 23, 2017. (Yonhap)

The acting president underscored that the North has yet to respond to Seoul's proposals to hold the reunions of separated families on a regular basis, and allow the families living south and north of the heavily fortified border to exchange letters.

"Without responding (to our demands), the North has repeatedly engaged in reckless provocations such as nuclear tests and missile launches," he said.

According to government data, 131,143 people have been registered as having relatives living in the communist neighbor. A considerable number of them have already passed away, due in large part to old age.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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