North Korea accepts offer for family reunions

DPRK change earlier stance on family reunions in a continuation of recent peaceful overtures
January 24th, 2014

The North Korean government has accepted earlier South Korean proposals on Friday to hold reunions for family members separated during the Korean War, in an effort to bolster co-operation on the peninsula.

The message was sent via fax from the North’s Red Cross to its Southern equivalent, suggesting that the event be held after the Lunar New Year on January 31st.

The North said that it hoped the reunion program would help diffuse the high tensions that have become the norm in recent years.  The move marks a turn-around from earlier this month, when South Korean President Park Geun Hye’s call for family reunions was rejected by the DPRK.

In response, the South’s Unification Ministry said in a statement: “Our government welcomes that North Korea accepted our proposal to hold the family reunions though belatedly.”

The message also referenced the North’s decision to call off an earlier attempt at reuniting families in September. ““Last year’s scheduled reunion was suspended due to Seoul’s improper attitude that did not respect its counterpart. But the North’s will to lessen the pain of national division will never change.”

The move is the latest in a series of seemingly reconciliatory gestures,  with the North’s National Defense Commission (NDC) sending an open letter to the South Korean government earlier today. The letter called for the abandonment of joint US – South Korean military drills.

The South Korean Defense Ministry replied that the North should prove their sincerity with something other than rhetoric. “Now is the high time (for the DPRK) to show sincerity not with words, but with action,” Wi Yong Seop a deputy spokesperson for the Ministry said in a statement.

Picture: Eric Lafforgue

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Leo Byrne

Leo Byrne is an NK News contributor based in London

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