Korea proposes regular family reunions with North
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[March 01, 2014]
By Narae Kim
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean President
Park Geun-hye made a formal proposal to North Korea on Saturday to hold
family reunions regularly, uniting families separated since the 1950-53
Korean war, a sign Seoul is seeking to improve relations with the North.
The reunions used to be held roughly annually, but until this
February had not taken place since 2010 when tensions between the
two Koreas spiraled after the South said the North sank one of its
The latest family reunion was held on February 20-25 at the Mount
Kumgang resort just north of the border and a total of 813 family
members met in tears and joy.
"I propose to North Korea to make family reunions regular in order
to ease the deep sorrow of the separated families as soon as
possible. North Korea too has separated families and I believe it
also has to relieve their pain and agony," said Park in a speech
marking the March First Independence Movement Day.
"There is not much time left for these elderly Koreans. The event in
which separated families reunite should not be a special occasion
any more, said Park.
"One people and one reunified Korean peninsula is the completion of
the March First spirit and will contribute to the peace of North
East Asia and the world."
This year commemorates the 95th year of the declaration of the
nation's independence from Japanese colonization on March 1, 1919.
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There have been 19 family reunions since the first in 1985,
during a previous thaw in relations between Seoul and Pyongyang, but
the events have never been regular and have ebbed and flowed with
the state of Korean relations.
Last Thursday, days after the six-day family reunion came to a close
and annual U.S. and South Korean joint military exercises began,
North Korea fired four short-range missiles over the sea off its
The North has denounced the joint military exercises as a
preparation for war while Seoul and Washington have said the annual
drills are defensive in nature.
(Editing by Michael Perry)
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