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    » 03/26/2008, 00.00


    Stop to North-South family reunions

    For “technical reasons” Pyongyang blocks scheduled family reunions, puts off the inauguration of the permanent centre that would give families divided since the civil war a chance to meet.

    Seoul (AsiaNews) – Since the election of Conservative President Lee Myung-bak, who has taken a critical stance vis-à-vis North Korea’s Stalinist regime, “family reunions” have come to a halt. Many families divided since the Civil War (1950-1953) are now afraid they might have to wait a long time before seeing again their loved ones from the other side of the border.

    Such reunions began in the early 80s when the governments of the two Koreas decide to set up maxi-screens on the border allowing families to see each other.

    In 2003 then President Kin Dae-jung launched his “sunshine policy” which led to direct day-long reunions between hitherto separated relatives.

    Last year the two sides agreed to the creation of a permanent centre for family reunions but the inauguration date, initially set for April, has been put off sine die.

    In the meantime already scheduled reunions have been postponed for “technical reasons”.

    For some analysts this is a consequence of the positions taken by the newly-elected president—he has several times criticised the North Korean regime, saying that he was prepared to “stop humanitarian aid” if the human rights situation in the Stalinist nation did not change.

    Currently about 130,000 South Korean families are cut off from their North Korean relatives.

    For Pyongyang its own people are “true Korean’ compared to South Koreans which it has criticised for selling out to the West.

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    See also

    21/05/2009 KOREA
    Pyongyang executes official favourable to dialogue with South
    Choe Sung-chul was executed for the failed open dialogue policy with South Korea. But South Korean authorities have not confirmed the story. Some sources suggest instead that it might be counter-information released in the current situation in which North Korea is threatening to shut down the Kaesong industrial complex.

    24/09/2010 KOREA
    No deal on family reunions
    Seoul and Pyongyang plan a new meeting on the issue, but the programme has not yet been re-started. South Korea announces new joint naval exercises with the United States.

    18/08/2009 SOUTH KOREA
    South Korea mourns death of Kim Dae-jung
    President from 1997 to 2003, during the years of military dictatorship was repeatedly arrested and sentenced to death. Devout Catholic, staunch defender of human rights and Nobel Peace Laureate in 2000, he promoted the Sunshine policy aimed at normalizing relations with the North. Historic summit in June 2000 with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

    25/02/2008 NORTH KOREA
    The New York Philharmonic arrives in Pyongyang, anti US posters disappear
    The orchestra, directed by Lorin Maazel, will perform two concerts beneath the US and North Korean flags. Kim Jong-il along with, according to some, Condoleezza Rice will attend one of the concerts. In Seoul stalwart conservative Lee Myung-bak, takes office.

    14/08/2007 NORTH KOREA – SOUTH KOREA
    Hopes and doubts ahead of intra-Korean summit
    Pyongyang starts preliminary talks with Seoul in preparation for late August historic summit. But in South Korea there are doubts as well as hopes. At issue are the summit’s location, timing and agenda.

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