2013-08-19 08:05:26

North Korea agrees to family reunions

(Vatican Radio) North Korea has agreed to a South Korean proposal to hold a reunion, giving some cross-border families another chance to meet their long-lost relatives. As Alastair Wanklyn reports, the initiative is one of several by North Korea apparently aimed at restoring relations with the South.

The mass reunion will take place in mid-September, North Korea's government said in a statement issued only three days after South Korea made the proposal.

Tens of thousands of Korean families were split apart by the Korean War, with relatives living either side of the border unable to communicate easily by phone or by mail.

Reunions have taken place on 18 known occasions, when just over 17,000 people from North and South Korea were given a chance to meet their relatives face to face. But the last such meeting was almost three years ago, and many people who remember the Korean War era are now elderly.

The reunion is no done deal. North Korea declared it should happen at a mountain tourist resort where it wants South Koreans to resume regular tourism; South Korea responded saying it believes the border town of Panmunjon is more suitable.

Meanwhile on Sunday, a team of South Korean factory managers headed into North Korea to inspect assembly lines that have been idle there since April. The team's supervisor said...

...they were to inspect whether factories at the Kaesong industrial zone still have power, phone lines and water. It's a first step towards agreeing a date on which to restart work at the factories and to resume employment for 53,000 or so North Koreans pulled out by their government in April.

Listen to Alastair Wanklyn's report RealAudioMP3

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