family reunions resume at scenic Mt.
SEOUL -- Hundreds of North
and South Korean relatives separated for half
a century held face-to-face reunions at North
Korea's scenic Mount Kumgang resort, officials
About 400 South Koreans made the trip across
the border to meet 97 North Koreans. A second
group of South Koreans will travel to Mount
Kumgang later in the week, a South Korean Red
Cross official told AFP.
The North last year halted reunions for families
separated since the 1950-53 Korean war in retaliation
for the suspension of Seoul's rice aid. They
resumed in May.
At a rare inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang
earlier this month, South Korea's Roh Moo-hyun
and the North's Kim Jong-il agreed to speed
up family reunions and the construction of
a permanent reunion center at the resort.
Since the first Korean peace summit in 2000,
about 15,000 Koreans have been allowed face-to-face
meetings. About 2,700 others, many of whom
are too infirm to travel for meetings, have
been reunited via video link since August 2005.
Even so, more than 90,000 people from the South
alone have not seen loved ones since the war
ended. There are no mail or telephone services
across the heavily fortified border.
South Korea regards family reunions as a pressing
issue because many relatives are desperate
to see family members before they die.