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Seoul asks Pyongyang to talk about resuming reunions of separated families

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South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Young-se on Thursday called on North Korea to hold talks on restarting families separated since the Korean War, which took place seven decades ago at a time marked by a lack of dialogue between the two sides.

Kwon asked North Korea to respond to this request “as soon as possible” at a press conference held in Seoul today, on the eve of the start of the “Chuseok” festivities, one of the most important celebrations in Korean culture in which gives thanks for the harvest and honors the ancestors in the family.

“There are going to be separated families who will spend these holidays feeling lonely, longing for relatives and the places where they were born,” Kwon said.

“There is not much time left, about 400 people belonging to these separated families die every month, so right now there are only about 40,000 people over 80 and 90 years old,” added the minister.

Kwon urged that the matter be settled before “the very term ‘separate families’ disappears.”

He added that intermittent events that include only a limited number of families are not enough, and stressed that the current government of conservative Yoon Suk-yeol is willing to broach the issue with North Korean officials “anytime, anywhere and from anywhere.” possible way”.

Since the two Koreas, which are still technically at war, held their first bilateral leaders’ summit in 2000, there have been 21 rounds of meetings – many of them during “Chuseok” – of separated families, the last of them more than four years, in August 2018.

However, since the failure of the Hanoi denuclearization summit in 2019, Pyongyang has chosen to gradually distance itself from Seoul.

To this we must add that North Korea has kept its borders tightly closed since the outbreak of the pandemic at the beginning of 2020, and that it has rejected the offers of dialogue made by the new government of Yoon Suk-yeol, to whom it also has disqualified.

The regime has also approved a weapons modernization plan and appears ready for a new nuclear test as the South Korean and US militaries resumed their combined drills this summer for the first time since 2018.

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