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Koreas Reportedly Agree To Resume Family Reunions

North Korean delegate Pak Yong-Il crosses the military demarcation line with South Korea for a meeting on family reunions as North Korean soldiers stand guard at the border village of Panmunjom on Friday.
North Korean delegate Pak Yong-Il crosses the military demarcation line with South Korea for a meeting on family reunions as North Korean soldiers stand guard at the border village of Panmunjom on Friday.

North and South Korea have reportedly agreed to resume reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, picking up from where the emotional meetings left off when they were suspended three years ago.

South Koreans bid farewell to their North Korean relatives before returning home on a bus after family reunions in 2010.
/ Getty Images
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South Koreans bid farewell to their North Korean relatives before returning home on a bus after family reunions in 2010.

The Associated Press says the deal, struck Friday at the border village of Panmunjom — the same place the armistice was signed six decades ago — comes a week after the two sides said they would restart work at a joint industrial zone.

The agreements, brokered with the help of the Korean Red Cross, represent at least a temporary thaw in relations after Pyongyang's threat this spring to attack the U.S. and South Korea with nuclear weapons.

Seoul says 100 people from each country will be allowed to meet family members Sept. 25-30 at North Korea's Diamond Mountain resort. More than 70,000 people in South Korea have registered for the reunions.

Many Korean families were split by the Korean War, with some members left in the South and others trapped in North Korea at the end of the conflict. The two sides are divided by the world's most heavily fortified border and travel between the two countries is all but impossible.

The BBC quotes one person, Kim Kyung-ryun, who says she's been trying for decades to reunite with her parents and siblings in the North.

"So many reunions have passed, and I've never been picked," Kim said. "So I wonder whether my chance will ever come, and I'm just a bit too tired to worry about it now."

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