It looks like some good might be coming out of the tense standoff between North Korea and South Korea last month, as the two combatants eventually settled their dispute and agreed to further talks. Moreover, South Korean media sources are reporting on Tuesday that the continued discussions have led to an agreement for a series of reunions for families who have been separated by the Korean War.
More on North Korea – South Korea family reunions
According to the Yonhap news agency, reunions for 100 separated families will be held October 20th through 26th at Mount Kumgang, a coastal resort in North Korea. The planned family meetings will be the first family reunions in 18 months and only the second set of reunions in the last five years.
The new agreement for family reunions resulted from the deal two countries reached two weeks ago to resolve a worrisome stand off at the border.
Of note, according to a report from the BBC, the negotiations were being mediated by Red Cross officials.
Many families were violently separated in 1953, when the war divided the Korean Peninsula. The reunions began following a ground-breaking North-South summit in 2000, and were scheduled as annual events. Unfortunately, the reunions have been cancelled on a number of occasions because of diplomatic spats between the two countries.
Every opportunity for a reunion results in tens of thousands of applications from South Koreans, but only a few families end up seeing their loved ones again. The last family reunions saw 100 from each side coming together in a touching, emotional-filled event.
According to South Korean records, more than 66,000 South Koreans, many elderly, remain on the waiting list for a reunion. On a sad note, close to half of the nearly 130,000 applicants for family reunions have died before they were selected to meet.
Recent dangerous military stand off on Korean peninsula resolved
As reported by ValueWalk, late last month North Korea and South Korea exchanged artillery fire as tensions on the volatile Korean Peninsula soared. South Korea accused Pyongyang of planting a mine in the South Korean side on the DMZ that resulted in serious injuries to two ROK soldiers, and began to blast propaganda messages across border via huge loudspeakers.
The stand off between the long adversaries lasted for several days, but eventually a deal was hammered out after marathon 48-hour talks. As part of the agreement, North Korea made an official statement expressing regret for the soldiers’ injuries, and South Korea halted its anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts.
North Korea also agreed to cancel the “semi state of war” it had declared last week (a declaration that would have been amusing if it had not come from a dangerous megalomaniac with nuclear weapons). The two Koreas also agreed to continue with additional talks on issues including family reunions to better their diplomatic relationship.
Political analysts point out that North Korea has continued to deny anything to do with landmines in the DMZ, and highlight that the statement by the isolated state was explicitly not an apology and did not take any responsibility for planting the mines.