Nearly 20,000 Koreans have participated in 20 rounds of face-to-face temporary reunions held between the countries since 2000. South Korea uses a computerized lottery to pick participants for the reunions. The limited numbers of reunions are vastly insufficient to meet the demands of aging relatives, who are mostly in their 80s and 90s, South Korean officials say. According to Seoul’s Unification Ministry, more than 75,000 of the 132,000 South Koreans who have applied to attend a reunion have died.
After a nine-hour meeting between Red Cross officials from the two sides, North and South Korea agreed Friday to hold temporary reunions of families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War. The reunions will take place at North Korea’s Diamond Mountain resort from Aug. 20 to 26. The countries will each send 100 participants to the reunions. People with mobility problems will be allowed to bring a relative to help them. The families were driven apart during the turmoil of the war. “If we sternly separate ourselves from the unfortunate past and acquire a strong mindset for the new times, humanitarian cooperation between the North and South will flourish,” North Korea delegate Pak Yong Il said.