South Korea Eyes Reuniting Families Still Split by Korean War

If North Korea agrees, reunions could take place in late January

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South Korea President Park Geun-hye called Monday for a resumption of reunions between Korean families still separated by the Korean War six decades ago, in a perceived attempt to cool tensions with her northern neighbor.

“I hope that North Korea will create a new opportunity for South-North relations and a framework for dialogue by taking a good first step with family reunions,” Park said during a news conference, the New York Times reports. She proposed the new round of meetings could be held later this month.

Restarting the reunions would help “heal wounded hearts,” she added, days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for better cross-border ties despite disagreements over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

Millions of Korean families were forcibly split when an armistice, rather than a more permanent peace treaty, halted the 1950-1953 war. About 22,000 people from both countries took part in 18 rounds of government-planned reunions between 1985 and 2010, and about 73,000 South Koreans remain on a waiting list to meet family members in the North. Meetings scheduled for last September were scuttled when North Korea pulled out, blaming “hostility” from the South.