09/08/2015, 00.00
KOREA
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Seoul and Pyongyang agree on resumption of family reunifications

The meeting between relatives separated by the border will take place between October 20 to 26 at a resort on Mount Kumgang, on the north side of the border. The meetings will involve 100 people. Hopes for a stabilization of meetings on an annual basis.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - The governments of the two Koreas have agreed to resume family reunions. The last reunification took place in February 2014. The next round will be held from 20 to 26 October, 2015 at a resort on Mount Kumgang, a well-known tourist spot on the northern part of the border. 100 families have been permitted to take part..

The organization of the vent will be managed, as always, by the Red Cross. Officials from both sides met last week in the "peace village" of Panmunjon to finalize the details. According to South Korean sources, representatives of Seoul pushed for a fixed scheduling of reunification on an annual basis. The request "was received in advance" by the North Koreans, however, they "did not express any opinion" on the matter.

Family reunificationsd for the first time in 1985. They represent a "goodwill gesture" on the part of the governments of Seoul and Pyongyang, which however have never been able to make institutional. To participate, citizens who can prove that they have a relative still living across the border register with the South Korean Ministry of Unification: the beginning were 130 thousand, today there are in life just over 70 thousand.

Family reunions were held for the first time in 1985. They were a "goodwill gesture" by the two Korean governments, but were never formally institutionalised.  To take advantage of this opportunity, South Koreans who can prove that they have a living relative on the other side of the border must register with the South Korean Ministry of Unification.  When the programme started, 130,000people applied; at present, only 66, 000 or so are still alive.

From this macro-list, the Seoul government prepares various lists in order of seniority and degree of kinship: the priority is given to those who are older - but can still bear the physical and mental stress that these reunifications involve - and who has close relatives such as children or brothers and sisters. Given these criteria, they arrive at a list of about a thousand names, and the ministry relies on a computer during a televised lottery to randomly select names that will be included in reunification.

In addition there are a number of "reservations", which take over in the event of unforeseen marches back last time: who participates is then excluded from the lists. Unknown with methods of selection applied by Pyongyang and statistics on family members of the North.

From the historic inter-Korean summit in 2000 - which was to make institutional - family reunification were held in 19 editions face to face, plus seven in video conference. Only 18,800 families were able to meet.

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