Go to contents

Seoul proposes talks to Pyongyang for family reunion issue

Seoul proposes talks to Pyongyang for family reunion issue

Posted September. 09, 2022 07:28,   

Updated September. 09, 2022 07:28


South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Young-se made an official proposal to North Korea on Thursday to hold a meeting between the two Koreas to resolve the issue of separated families. It is the first time since the inauguration of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration that an inter-Korean summit has been publicly proposed on the agenda of separated families.

"I look forward to the opportunity for officials from South and North Korea to meet as soon as possible to discuss candidly humanitarian issues, including the issue of separated families,” Minister Kwon said in a statement at the government complex in Seoul on Thursday morning. “We will proactively consider the North’s wishes regarding the date, place, agenda and format of the meeting.”

Minister Kwon brought up the issue of reunions of separated families a day before the Chuseok holiday. “As about 400 separated families pass away a month, we need to solve the problem before the words separated families themselves disappear,” he said. According to the Ministry of Unification, a total of 133,654 people had applied to be reunited with separated families by the end of last month, and 43,746 people, about a third, are alive. The average age of the applicants is 82.4 years, and most of them are elderly, including 12,856 over 90, 16,179 in their 80s, and 8,229 in their 70s.

Via the inter-Korean liaison office on Thursday morning, the South Korean government sent a letter in the name of Minister Kwon to North Korea's United Front Department Director Ri Son Kwon to propose a meeting. However, North Korea did not respond until 5 p.m. on the day. "Even if there is no response from North Korea, we will continue to knock on the door and make proposals,” Minister Kwon said.

Na-Ri Shin journari@donga.com