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(LEAD) Civilian contacts between Koreas drop following Hanoi summit breakdown: data

All Headlines 17:14 May 09, 2019

(ATTN: RECASTS throughout with clarified figures provided by unification ministry)

SEOUL, May 9 (Yonhap) -- The number of contacts between civilians of the two Koreas have declined in recent months since the breakdown of the February summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump, data showed Thursday.

According to the data provided by the unification ministry, a total of 89 South Koreans were allowed to meet North Koreans during the March-April period, down from 140 cases recorded during the previous two months.

The decline comes as North Korea has been lukewarm toward cross-border cooperation recently, in particular after the breakdown of the February summit between Kim and Trump.

The number of South Koreans visiting North Korea slightly rose to 617 so far this year from the 510 trips tallied during the same period a year earlier.

This still represented around one-tenth of the 6,689 people allowed to travel to the North throughout last year, a ministry official said.

The 2018 number appeared to have spiked in the latter half as cross-border exchanges and contacts expanded in the wake of the first summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim in April.

South Koreans need state approval for trips to North Korea or meetings with its people as the two Koreas technically remain in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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