Koreas to discuss family reunions at Red Cross talks on Friday.
South and North Korea will hold Red Cross talks at Mount Geumgang in the North, Friday, to discuss resuming reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War South Korean officials departed from the Office of the South-North Dialogue in Seoul, Thursday, and are set to spend the night at Goseong in Gangwon Province. They will depart for Mount Geumgang Friday, taking a land route along the East Coast.
Mount Geumgang is where the reunions have taken place in the past. Resuming the reunions was among the agreements in the Panmunjeom Declaration reached at the inter-Korean summit on April 27.
The declaration states the Koreas seek to hold reunions on Aug. 15 ? which marks Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule.
Resuming the reunions is a pressing issue because most of the remaining family members are now in their 70s or older According to government data, over 132,124 people have registered as having separated family members in the North, and among them only 56,890 are still alive. The last reunion took place in October 2015 and failed to be resumed afterward due to strained relations between the South and North.
Twenty reunions have taken place since 2000, when the first was held after the first inter-Korean summit the same year Over the 20 events, around 20,000 people met with their long-lost relatives, which is only around 15 percent of the total number of registered people. At each event around 100 families took part.
The next reunion may invite more members considering they are elderly and may pass away soon. The talks may discuss launching a study to check up on surviving family members.
In addition, they may address enabling separated family members to exchange letters and visit their hometowns, as a means to enable lasting contact between the family members instead of simply holding a one-off reunion event. They could also talk about running reunion centers that members can visit at any time, or resuming video meetings.
It is to be seen whether the Koreas will discuss other humanitarian issues such as the release of six South Koreans the North is detaining, and the return of 12 North Korean restaurant workers who are known to have defected to the South, but may have been abducted. .