Koreans Families Separated for 60 Years to Reunite

New round of reunions scheduled for Feb. 20 to 25
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2014 2:40 AM CST
The head of South Korean working-level delegation Lee Duk-haeng, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Park Yong Il during their meeting at Tongilgak in the North Korean side of Panmunjom.   (AP Photo/South Korean Unification Ministry)

(Newser) – The two Koreas today gave the green light to the first family reunions since October 2010. The meetings of select families from the North and South—who have had no communication since the 1950-'53 Korean War—will occur Feb. 20 to 25 at Mount Kumgang, described by Yonhap News as a "scenic resort" in North Korea. That timing will likely overlap with the start of the South's annual joint military exercises with the US. And, as Australia's ABC News notes, "both sides have been here before." Agreed-upon reunions scheduled for last September were scrapped by Pyongyang four days before they were due to begin over the South's "hostility."

North Korea has urged Seoul to cancel the drills, painting them as a dry-run for a war against Pyongyang; Seoul has declined to do so. "The drills have been conducted annually and they simply cannot be an issue for us as far as the reunions are concerned," a South Korean official tells the South China Morning Post. Roughly 100 South Koreans are expected to participate, though 70,000 are looking to do so. The Post notes that in past reunions, a few hundred people have had "fleeting moments" together; though about 22,000 Koreans have had reunions, there has never been a second meeting for any of them.

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