North and South Korea to hold family reunion

  • 08/09/2015
South and North Koreans will be reunited with family separated during the Korean War (Reuters)
South and North Koreans will be reunited with family separated during the Korean War (Reuters)

North and South Korea have agreed to hold a reunion in October for families separated by the Korean War, following all-night talks between their respective Red Cross branches.

The reunion - only the second to be held in five years - will take place between October 20 and 26 in North Korea's Mount Kumgang resort, the South's Unification Ministry said on Tuesday.

Seoul was understood to have been pushing for an earlier date - before a major North Korean political anniversary on October 10 - fearing Pyongyang might use the occasion to engage in a provocative act that could scupper the reunion altogether.

The Red Cross talks began on Monday morning in the border truce village of Panmunjom and, according to the South's Unification Ministry, ran through the night with only occasional breaks.

According to the agreement, 100 people will be selected by each side to take part in the week-long event.

The effort to organise a reunion was the product of an accord the two Koreas reached two weeks ago to end a dangerous military stand-off and reduce cross-border tensions.

Pyongyang has already accused Seoul of spinning the settlement as a North Korean climb down, and warned that it would tear up the entire deal, including the family reunion, if the South continued making "wild remarks".

North Korea is planning a massive military parade on October 10 to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers' Party.

There has been speculation that it might also launch a long-range rocket - a move that would trigger fresh UN sanctions and raise tensions on the divided peninsula.

AFP