S. Korean ministry vows all policy means to resolve separated families issue
Published : Feb 7, 2023 - 11:38
Updated : Feb 7, 2023 - 11:38
This photo is taken from a family reunion held at Mount Kumgang Kangwon-do, North Korea in 2015 (The Korea Herald DB)

South Korea plans to mobilize all available policy means to resolve the issue of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, prioritizing identifying whether their relatives in North Korea are alive, Seoul's unification ministry said Tuesday.

Under the 2023-25 plan to deal with the long-pending issue, the ministry said it plans to focus on resuming exchanges of war-torn families and addressing issues stemming from the inter-Korean division, such as prisoners of war and South Koreans detained in the North.

The issue of separated families has taken on urgency as more elderly people have died without having a chance to meet their kin in the North amid the secretive regime's reluctance to hold family reunion events.

The ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, plans to draw up measures to verify the fate of their kin living in the North and exchange the whole list of such families of the two sides.

The government will also continue to make efforts to resume family reunions, including seeking to first hold video-based events in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, the two Koreas have held 21 rounds of face-to-face family reunion events, including the latest one in August 2018. State-arranged family reunions have been halted amid frosty inter-Korean relations.

More than 10,000 South Koreans died over the past three years without having a chance to reunite with their family members in the North, according to government data. Almost 66 percent of surviving members of such families are aged 80 and older. (Yonhap)