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North, South Korea agree to cross-border reunions for families split by war

An emotional cross-border meeting beckons for 200 Koreans separated by decades of conflict.
Image: Son Kwon Geun
North Korean Son Kwon Geun, from center, weeps with his South Korean relatives as he bid farewell after the Separated Family Reunion Meeting at Diamond Mountain resort in North Korea, on Oct. 22, 2015.Korea Pool / AP file
/ Source: Reuters

SEOUL, South Korea — Two hundred family members separated by the decades-long Korean War will take part in emotional reunions next month, South Korea said Friday — the latest breakthrough in North Korea’s diplomatic thaw.

The families will be briefly reunited August 20-26 at a resort in Mount Kumgang, or "Diamond Mountain," in North Korea, the South’s Unification Ministry announced after talks.

The temporary reunions, which would be the first in three years, are among steps promised by Kim Jong Un following historic meetings with President Donald Trump earlier this month and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in May.

Image: Park Kyung-seo, Pak Yong Il
South Korean Red Cross President Park Kyung-seo, right, agreed the reunions after talks with North Korean counterpart Pak Yong Il.South Korea Unification Ministry / AP

Each country will send 100 participants, the ministry said, to be chosen from what is normally a huge number of applications.

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.

Recent improved relations come after serious deterioration during 2016 and 2017 over the North's nuclear and missile programs.

Although the Korean reunions are agreed to by government officials, the family arrangements are organized by the Red Cross.

The events are often emotional — as most of those wishing to take part are elderly people eager to see their loved ones before they die.

Stella Kim reported from Seoul, and Alastair Jamieson reported from London.