SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea has agreed to talks over reunions for families separated by the 1950-1953 war with South Korea, signaling new reconciliation after the two sides charted a path toward reopening a shuttered industrial complex.
Talks should be held Friday at the Mount Geumgang resort to organize family reunions, the North’s Korean Central News Agency said Saturday. North Korea also proposed talks for Thursday on resuming tourist visits to Mount Geumgang.
North Korea’s proposal answers a call from South Korean President Park Geun Hye, who had proposed the talks Thursday, a day after the two sides agreed to make efforts to reopen the Kaeseong complex.
Tensions had soared this year after North Korea conducted a nuclear test, prompting United Nations sanctions, and shuttered the complex in April to protest U.S.-South Korean military drills.
South Korea’s government should agree to the North’s offer, said Yang Moo Jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. The message here is that the North wants tours resumed along with Kaeseong.
Family reunion talks should be held at the Panmunjom truce village, Kim Hyung Suk, a spokesman for South Korea’s unification ministry, said in a media briefing Saturday. The government will look into holding talks on Mount Geumgang tours and disclose its stance on the issue at a later date, he said.
Tours to Mount Geumgang on the North Korean side of the border have been halted since North Korean troops shot and killed a South Korean tourist at the resort in July 2008.