September 09, 2015 09:54
The two Koreas agreed on Tuesday to hold reunions of families separated by the Korean War in Mt. Kumgang on Oct. 20-26.
It was the first step the two sides have taken to implement an agreement reached after marathon talks late last month. Tuesday's agreement also took more than 23 hours to hammer out in the truce village of Panmunjom.
One hundred people from each side will meet their long-lost relatives from the other side.
The two sides also agreed to hold further talks in the near future to discuss a wide range of matters, including the question of making the family reunions a regular event.
Some 60,000 families were separated by the war.
The two sides agreed relatively easily on the venue and the number of families from each side but were at loggerheads over the timing.
South Korea initially hoped to organize the meetings on Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving on Sept. 27, or at any rate before Oct. 10, the anniversary of the North Korean Workers Party.
The fear is that the North will stage some kind of provocation like a long-range missile launch on the anniversary that could yet nullify the plans for the reunions.
Lee Soo-seok of the Institute for National Security Strategy said, "If the family reunions are successful, inter-Korean relations could progress smoothly for the time being."
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