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Seoul to prioritize reunion of separated families if inter-Korean talks resume

All News 11:50 September 13, 2019

SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will put top priority on the reunion of family members separated by the 1950-53 Korean War if the inter-Korean talks resume, the country's top official on unification policy said Friday.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said at Imjingak, a park in Paju, just south of the demilitarized zone separating two Koreas, that it is time for South and North Korea to respond to the decadeslong wait for the reunion of families.

A group of divided families has celebrated the Chuseok holiday at Imjingak since 1970. Chuseok is the Korean autumn harvest celebration.

"The government will continue to seek various ways to check if separated relatives are still alive, allow them to visit their hometowns and pay tribute to their ancestors' graves in the follow-up meetings with the North," the minister said.

In September last year, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to establish a permanent family reunion center, push forward video reunions between separated families and have them exchange letters. But no progress has yet been made.

Tens of thousands remain separated from their family members following the end of the Korean War, which ended in a truce.

A total of 133,353 South Koreans have registered to be reunited with their long-lost loved ones in the North since 1988. Sixty percent of them had died as of the end of August.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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