North and South Korea agree to resume rare family reunions


Reunion programs are highly emotional as most wishing to take part are elderly people who are eager to reunite with their loved ones before they die.

The resumption of the reunions was among the agreements reached between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South's president Moon Jae-in at their landmark summit in April.

South Korean officials will begin inspections of the Mount Kumgang resort - the venue of the reunions - from next week, it added.

The agreement was announced in a joint statement on Friday after delegations from the two Koreas held talks.

"Sleep well tonight!" Trump tweeted on June 13, the day after he and Kim met in Singapore. The violent scenes of American war crimes or crushing United States troops are starting to give way to signs that push for the success of an ongoing five-year economic growth plan, reports NK News.

Observers generally agree that Kim's visit to China this time is apparently meant to brief Xi on the outcome of his summit with Trump but added that he could enlist support from China ahead of talks on how fast it will have to give up its nuclear weapons program. Park Kyung-seo, president of South Korea's Red Cross, expressed hope for talks that could "resolve the grief of our nation".

The reunion program was halted in 2015 amid growing tensions between the two sides as North Korea intensified its nuclear program with frequent missile launches and tests. Almost 20,000 Koreans had participated in 20 rounds of face-to-face reunions held between the countries since 2000.

More than 66,000 South Korean family members have been separated by the Korean War of 1950-53, which is still in a truce because no peace treaty was ever signed.

The limited rounds of reunions are vastly insufficient to meet the demands of aging relatives, who are mostly in their 80s and 90s, South Korean officials say.

"We should make active efforts for good results today by trusting and being considerate of each other", said Pak Yong Il, the leader of the North's delegation. None of the past participants has had a second reunion. "And the big thing is, it will be a total denuclearization, which is already starting", Trump said at a cabinet meeting. As recently as May the North Korean Red Cross organisation urged South Korea to return the women "without delay".

Pyongyang has previously said it will not agree to family reunions unless Seoul returns several of its citizens, including a group of waitresses who defected from a restaurant in China.

At their summit, Kim and Trump signed a pledge "to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", a stock phrase favored by Pyongyang that stopped short of longstanding USA demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a "verifiable" and "irreversible" way.

But Trump, after returning from his summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore last week, struck a far less ominous tone.