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President of South Korea Requests that North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un Help Reunite War-Torn Families

( [email protected] ) Jan 06, 2014 03:42 PM EST
South Korea President Park Geun-hye expressed Monday that she hopes that North Korea will engage in a joint effort to reunite families who were torn apart by the Korean War during the 1950s. The countries had mutually agreed to hold a family reunion in September 2013, but the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK) canceled the event after instigating a skirmish with South Korean guards the day before it was to take place.
South Korean Kim Sung-bok (R), 90, with an unidentified South Korean family member, meets his daughter Kim Hee-sook (L), 61, during an inter-Korean temporary family reunion at Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea November 3, 2010.
REUTERS/Kim Chang-Gil/Korea Pool

South Korea President Park Geun-hye expressed Monday that she hopes that North Korea will engage in a joint effort to reunite families who were torn apart by the Korean War during the 1950s. The countries had mutually agreed to hold a family reunion in September 2013, but the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK) canceled the event after instigating a skirmish with South Korean guards the day before it was to take place.

The Korean War never ended with a peace treaty; instead, the two countries ceased fire with an armistice, and many families who had fled their homeland during the war were never allowed to return home. According to Fox News, communication is cut off between private citizens of the two countries, and many of the millions of families who were separated likely do not know what happened to one another.

The last Korean family reunion was held in the fall of 2010, where 436 South Koreans were allowed to visit North Korea to see 97 of their relatives for three days. CNN reports that family reunions were first held in 2000, decades after the Korean War had begun. About 80,000 South Koreans have registered to partake in the events, and 17,000 people have been able to meet their long lost family members since then.

President Park has also expressed her desire to form better relations with the DPRK, and has announced that South Korea plans to ship more humanitarian aid there. She hopes that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un intends to improve relations between the two countries as well, as he had stated in his New Year's Day address.