Seoul to gather for reunion with Pyongyang families

Seoul, Oct 19 (IANS) Hundreds of South Koreans will gather in the country’s coastal city of Sokcho on Monday to prepare for the long-awaited reunion with their families from North Korea.

The October 20-26 reunion of families, separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, was agreed in late August when top-level military advisors to South Korean President Park Geun-hye and top North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met to defuse tensions that had pushed the two Koreas to the brink of armed conflict, Xinhua news agency reported.

A group of 393 South Koreans, including the divided families and their companions as most of them are in their 80s and 90s, will gather at a resort hotel in Sokcho a day before the first round of the three-day family reunion in North Korea’s Mount Kumgang resort, according to Seoul’s unification ministry.

More than 100 supporting officials and 29 media reporters will accompany the families.

The gathered families will be educated on Monday about dos and don’ts while staying in North Korea’s resort, a venue for the humanitarian event that is only the second in the past five years. The last one was held in February 2014.

On Tuesday morning, the South Koreans will cross the inter-Korean border into the Mount Kumgang resort by bus. Later in the afternoon, they will have the first gathering with their long-lost North Korean relatives for two hours.

The separated families will have six meetings, each to be run for two hours, during the three-day first round.

The second round will run for three days from Saturday at North Korea’s resort with the same programme.

A group of 255 South Koreans will participate in the second round of the reunion event.

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