Seoul, Sep 8 (IANS) South Korea and North Korea on Tuesday agreed to hold the reunion of Korean families, separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, next month in North Korea’s Mount Kumgang resort, Seoul’s unification ministry said.
The first family reunion in about one-and-a-half years would be held at the gathering centre in the scenic Mount Kumgang resort, located in southeastern North Korea, from October 20 to October 26, Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.
About 100 people each from the two Koreas would meet their long-lost relatives during the upcoming event, the first since February 2014 when the last family reunion was held in Mount Kumgang on a similar scale.
The two Koreas also agreed to hold another Red Cross talks at an early date to discuss future family reunions and other issues of mutual concern.
The agreement came after more than 23 hours of marathon talks. The working-level Red Cross contact ended on Tuesday after kicking off on Monday.
It was unusually prolonged as the working-level Red Cross contact in February 2014 ended in about four hours.
The Red Cross talks for family reunion came after top military officials of the two Koreas agreed in August to defuse tensions caused by the exchange of fire and landmine blast.
The top-level military dialogue had agreed to hold the meeting for family reunion, while promising to hold inter-governmental talks to improve inter-Korean relations.
During the Red Cross contact, the two sides focused mainly on the timing and venue for the reunion event, and differences emerged over when to hold it.
South Korea called for the event to be held before the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea on October 10 while the North side said it be held after the founding ceremony.
South Korea also called for regularly holding of the reunion event, exchanging the list of all separated families who are alive and allowing the families to exchange letters and hold video reunion.
Those issues were expected to be discussed during the higher-level Red Cross talks, agreed on Tuesday at the working-level contact.
Since the Korean War ended with an armistice in 1953, the two Koreas has technically remained in a state of war and the exchange of letters and telephone calls have been banned.
Almost half of about 130,000 South Koreans, who had applied for a reunion since 1988, passed away without a chance to meet their long-lost relatives.