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Video family reunions not likely to take place around Lunar New Year's holiday: official

North Korea 13:35 January 15, 2019

SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- Video reunions of separated families of South and North Korea are unlikely to happen around next month's Lunar New Year's Day holiday as it takes time to make preparations, including obtaining a sanctions exemption for the event, a unification ministry official said Tuesday

On Monday, the ministry handling inter-Korean affairs said that video reunions could take place on the occasion of the Feb. 5 holiday. It is a follow-up to an agreement between the leaders of the Koreas in September to hold video reunions and allow their war-torn families to exchange video letters.

"Given that it is mid-January now and (the Lunar New Year's holiday) falls in early February, it appears physically hard to hold (the video reunions) on the occasion of the holiday," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Video reunions require image-relaying equipment, which could be subject to global sanctions, he said. Even if the sanctions exemptions are secured, he said it would need time to prepare for the event, including a process of choosing who will participate, which could take more than a month.

The Koreas held face-to-face family reunions in August at the Mount Kumgang resort on the North's east coast with around 100 families from each side having a chance to meet their long-lost relatives for the first time in decades.

Around 20 rounds of face-to-face family reunions have been arranged since the first-ever inter-Korean summit in 2000. Some 57,000 South Koreans, mostly in their 80s and older are waiting to be reunited with their families who might be living in the North.

The Koreas technically remain at war as the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.


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