S. Korean team heads to North to arrange family reunions

By 박한나
  • Published : Feb 7, 2014 - 11:22
  • Updated : Feb 7, 2014 - 11:22

A group of South Korean officials crossed the border into North Korea Friday to check facilities for the reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War later this month.

The two Koreas agreed Wednesday to hold the reunions at Mount Kumgang, a scenic resort on North Korea's east coast, from Feb.

20-25. The following day, they exchanged the lists of families set to meet with their long-lost relatives, with 85 from Seoul and 95 from Pyongyang.

If the reunions take place, they will be the first in more than three years.

To arrange the meetings, 66 South Korean Red Cross officials and employees from Hyundai Asan Corps. entered North Korea on Friday via the border office on the east coast and headed to the venue at the Mount Kumgang resort, according to Seoul's unification ministry.

"Earlier today, North Korea agreed to the South Korean team's trip to the North to check facilities," the ministry said in a brief statement.

Hyundai Asan, the operator of the inter-Korean Mount Kumgang tour program, built hotels and other support facilities at the resort that opened to visitors in 1998. The tour project, however, has been halted since 2008 after a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by a North Korean guard.

"We are going to strive to fully prepare for the events by checking and repairing facilities so the elderly can conveniently meet their loved ones," said Park Geuk, a Red Cross official in Seoul.

Though South and North Korea broke their deadlock and agreed upon the humanitarian events, tensions and uncertainties remain high on the Korean Peninsula.

On Thursday, the communist country threatened to backtrack from the deal, once again calling on Seoul to cancel its upcoming joint military exercises with the United States.

Seoul and Washington are scheduled to stage their annual Key Resolve command post exercise and Foal Eagle field training in late February.

Dismissing the North's claim that the drills are a rehearsal for a nuclear war against it, the allies vowed to go ahead with them, saying the drills are defensive in nature. The Seoul government also urged the North to abide by its promise. (Yonhap)