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S Korean team to visit N Korea ahead of family reunions

ANI | Updated: Jun 27, 2018 06:59 IST

Seoul [South Korea], June 27 (ANI): A team of South Korean officials will visit North Korea today to inspect facilities for the planned reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
A senior ministry official in charge of humanitarian cooperation, Kim Byung-dae, will head a 20-member team. The group will cross the eastern border to visit Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast, which is the venue for the reunions scheduled from Aug 20 to 26.
"To prepare for the reunions of the divided families on the occasion of the Aug. 15 (Liberation Day), the team will be sent to Mount Kumgang until June 29," Yonhap quoted a ministry official as saying.
The team will check hotels, reunion rooms and electricity related facilities, as they have been left unused since the last reunions in October 2015.
Based on the outcome of the team's visit, repair work would be done in July and August to ensure that preparations for the reunions will proceed without any problem.
The agreement was made during a Red Cross meeting at a hotel on Mount Kumgang, involving delegations from the two Koreas.
The four-member South Korean delegation was led by Park Kyung-seo, head of the Korean Red Cross, while a three-member North Korean delegation was headed by Pak Yong-il, vice chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country.
The delegations discussed other humanitarian issues and agreed to exchange the final lists of people who will join the reunion events by August 4.
Since, the first-ever inter-Korean summit in 2000, North and South Korea have held 20 family reunion events so far, as per the report.
As per the latest data from the South Korean unification ministry, the number of separated families registered in South Korea stood at 132,134 in mid-May this year, out of which at least 56,890 of them were still alive.
In a 2016 survey, the ministry found out that 74.7 percent of the separated families living in South Korea did not say whether their families and relatives were alive or not in North Korea.
86 percent of them are over 70 years, the ministry said.
This is the latest reconciliatory step taken by the two Koreas in recent months, following the twin inter-Korean summits in April and May at Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to thorn out differences and cooperate in various inter-Korean projects. (ANI)

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