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6 in 10 S. Koreans registered for reunions with separated families have died: data

Update: September, 13/2019 - 11:03
In this file photo, taken August 22, 2018, Min Byeong-hyeon from South Korea poses for a photo together with his sister Min Deok-yeo from North Korea at the end of the three-day family reunion event at a hotel at the Kumgang Mountain resort on the North's scenic mountain near the east coast. The inter-Korean reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War was the first of its kind in nearly three years. — YONHAP/VNA Photo

SEOUL — Nearly 60 per cent of South Koreans who have sought reunions with family members separated by the 1950-53 Korean War have died, government data showed on Friday.

Among 133,353 South Koreans who have registered to be reunited with their long-lost loved ones in North Korea since 1988, 79,466, or 59.6 per cent, had died as of last month, according to the unification ministry data.

Among the 53,887 survivors, 63.8 percent were aged 80 or older, highlighting the urgency of one of the most pressing humanitarian matters for the two Koreas.

South Korea has been pushing to hold a round of video reunions following President Moon Jae-in's agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang last year, but the event has not taken place amid a stalemate in the inter-Korean dialogue.

North Korea recently said it will accept the South's recommendation via a UN meeting to continue co-operation with Seoul to "fundamentally resolve the issue of separated families, including the implementation of the relevant commitments made at the inter-Korean summits," but no visible progress has been made as of yet.

Since the first-ever summit of their leaders in 2000, the Koreas have held 21 rounds of face-to-face family reunion events, including the most recent one in August last year.

The Koreas remain technically at war as the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. — YONHAP

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