Posted July. 14, 2005 02:07,
Construction on a permanent reunion center for separated families will begin on August 30 at Mt. Geumgang in Onjeong-ri, Goseong-gun, Gangwon Province. The sixth North-South Red Cross talks, which will focus on South Korean POWs and abductees held by the North, will also take place at Mt. Geumgang over three days and two nights starting August 31.
On July 12, Korea National Red Cross (KNRC) President Han Wan-sang stated during an interview with Dong-A Ilbo at his offices in Namsan-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, Geological surveys for the permanent reunion center will be completed by the end of this month, and a groundbreaking ceremony will be held on August 30.
The reunion center, which will have a lot area of over 15,000 pyeong and a total floor space of 6,000 pyeong with one sublevel and 12 aboveground levels, is slated for completion by the end of August 2006.
We already reached an agreement with the North at the Red Cross working-level meeting in December 2003 that we would resolve the South Korean POWs and abductees issue once construction on the reunion center begins, said President Han, adding, We will strive to make headway (on these problems) at the sixth round of the Red Cross talks.
Another KNRC representative said, Weve already consulted with the Ministry of Unification on the schedules for the reunion center construction and the Red Cross talks, and noted, We havent reached an official agreement with the North, but there is a general understanding.
In addition, President Han remarked, The first video reunions, planned for around August 15, are designed to provide reunion opportunities for separated families who find it difficult to travel due to old age. He added, The reunions will be held simultaneously at 12 studios, including the KNRC main office.
At this days interview, President Han also mentioned his conversation with Chairman Kim Yong Nam of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People`s Assembly and North Korean Red Cross chief Chang Jae On during his visit to North Korea from June 21 through 24.
I stressed to them the need for real cooperation between the people of North and South Korea, he stated. I persuaded them that it was important to carry out comprehensive and uninterrupted cooperation across all areas, including the life-threatening nuclear issue.
During my term as KNRC president, I will work with a sense of duty as a social doctor administering to societys diseases and do my utmost to heal the wounds caused by natural disasters, impoverishment, and the division of the Korean people, he affirmed.