60 Years Later, Divided Korean Families Could Meet
North, South to discuss potential reunions on Wednesday
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 3, 2014 9:28 AM CST
South Korea's unification minister, center, cheers with North Korean defectors, refugees, and their families during a ceremony to celebrating the Lunar New Year north of Seoul, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

(Newser) – Families split by the Koreas' North-South divide could soon be reunited for the first time since the Korean War's 1953 end, though uncertainty remains. The North today agreed to talks aimed at planning the reunions, which the South has proposed run from Feb. 17 to 22, the New York Times reports. Seoul wanted to hold the planning talks last Wednesday, but the North gave no reply for a week; the two sides have now settled on this Wednesday. Such reunions have occurred 18 times previously, beginning in 1985, bringing together 22,000 Koreans.

That came to an end in 2010, and the AFP reports an urgency to their potential kick-start: Most of the relatives who would be reunited are quite old, and many have died. Indeed, the South held a lottery to select 100 participants in August, and two are now dead. One potential sticking point, however, is planned US-South Korean military exercises. Pyongyang says the exercises are aimed at a future invasion of the North and wants them canceled, but the South intends to hold them later this month. Some 73,000 South Koreans are on a waiting list to visit with relatives they haven't seen in six decades; half of those on the list are older than 80, the Times notes.