Talks set on reunions between two KoreasA flurry of preparations is in progress to hold family reunions as soon as possible between separated North and South Koreans, including working-level talks between the two Koreas that will be held in Kaesong this Friday.
South Korea’s Red Cross president said this week that the initial date North Korea suggested for the reunions - during the Chuseok holidays - would be impossible to meet because of the time-consuming steps needed in order for the reunion to be held.
A month is expected to be needed for the preparation process before separated families can meet for the first time in more than fifty years.
For this round of inter-Korean family reunions, the South Korean government will randomly select 300 people from a digital database of about 83,000 surviving people who have previously applied for family reunions.
Selection is done using a computer to eliminate the possibility of prejudice or favoritism. Those who have already participated in reunions are barred from selection.
After contacting the 300 people for reunion and confirming whether they are willing to participate in the event, the list gets narrowed down to 200.
A health exam is also conducted for the possible reunion candidates because many of them are in their eighties or nineties.
The remaining list of 200 names will then be sent to North Korea to check for surviving family members residing in the North.
After North Korea checks for surviving relatives, the candidates are finalized to a shortlist of 100.
North Korea also follows a similar process and comes up with a confirmed list of 100. The 100 selected from South Korea will then go on to meet their family members at the Mount Kumgang resort.
The total number of people participating over three days usually adds up to 300 or 400 members.
The 100 from the North get their chance to meet relatives after the first round of reunions.
During the reunions, gifts are often exchanged, with usually more lavish gifts from South Korean family members going over to family from the North. This process continues until the families have to part once again, indefinitely.
By Christine Kim [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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