Conflicts & War

Seoul proposes talks to Pyongyang on resuming separated family reunions

Seoul, Sep 8 (EFE).- South Korea’s unification minister on Thursday proposed talks to the North on the matter of families separated by the Korean War (1950-53) seven decades ago.

Kwon Young-se urged North Korea to respond to this request as soon as possible at a press conference in Seoul on the eve of the start of the “Chuseok” festival, one of the most important holidays in Korean culture when people gather to give thanks for the harvest and honor their ancestors.

Kwon said there are going to be separated families who will spend these holidays feeling lonely, longing for their relatives and the places where they were born.

The South Korean minister stressed the urgency of resolving the issue and said about 400 people belonging to these separated families died every month which left only about 40,000 people over 80 and 90 years old.

Kwon urged that the matter be settled before the very term separate families disappeared.

He added that intermittent reunions that included only a limited number of families were not enough, and stressed that the current government of conservative President Yoon Suk-yeol was willing to hold a dialogue with North Korean officials anytime, anywhere and in any format.

Since the two Koreas – which are still technically at war – held their first bilateral leaders’ summit in 2000, there have been 21 reunions of separated families, many of them during “Chuseok.”

The last such meeting was held more than four years ago, in August 2018.

However, since the failure of the Hanoi denuclearization summit in 2019, Pyongyang has chosen to gradually distance itself from Seoul.

It has kept its borders sealed since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020 and rejected offers of dialogue made by the new South Korean government.

The regime also approved a weapons modernization plan last year and seems to be prepared to carry out a new nuclear test at a time when the South Korean and United States militaries resumed their joint drills this summer for the first time since 2018. EFE


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