North and South Korea Set Date For Family Reunions

The countries will allow families a temporary respite from separation

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Yonhap / AFP / Getty Images

South Korea's working-level delegation head Lee Duk-Haeng, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Park Yong-Il during a meeting on resuming reunions for families separated by the Korean War, at the truce village of Panmunjom on Feb. 5, 2014.

The governments of North and South Korea have agreed to a temporary reunion between family members torn apart by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The event will take place from Feb. 20-25 in Mount Kumgang, an area just north of the South Korean border, Reuters reports. Although North Korea sometimes withdrew permission at short notice, in successful past reunions people were chosen by lottery and allowed to meet briefly with relatives before returning to their homes either side of the border.

This latest announcement has been welcomed by both China and the United States, yet it comes amid tensions over Pyongyang’s insistence that Seoul puts an end to its planned military exercises with the United States.

Pyongyang has not officially linked the reunions with its demand that South Korea cancel the regular military drills its army conducts with U.S. forces. However, Seoul says the request will continue to be rejected. A South Korean official said the drills “simply cannot be an issue for us as far as reunions are concerned.”