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Korea: South-North families to be reunited Friday

South-North families to be reunited Friday

SOKCHO, Gangwon Province _ The 11th round of face-to-face reunions of separated families between South and North Korea will be held at Mt. Geumgang in the North from Friday through next Wednesday.

The reunions come after a 13-month hiatus, following an inter-Korean agreement struck during the 15th Cabinet talks in June. On-screen reunion sessions were held for 20 families from the South and North each on Aug. 15, as part of joint celebrations for Liberation Day.

One hundred people from each side were selected to be reunited with their family members separated during the Korean War this time.

The first group of separated family members and some of their accompanying relatives from the South, gathered on Thursday at a condominium in Sokcho, Gangwon Province to register themselves and to attend an information session on visiting the North.

One of the selected relatives, Jun Chong-won, 73, had to give up the chance of going the North to meet his two siblings because of high blood pressure.

The group will be reunited with their family members in the North on four occasions during the three days for a group meeting, individual meeting, joint excursion to Samil-po Lake and a farewell. They will have one joint luncheon and dinner each.

From Monday to Wednesday, the second group composed of 100 separated family members of the North, will be reunited with 435 South Korean families.

On Aug. 31, the two sides are scheduled to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a family reunion center at Mt. Geumgang.

A total of 9,977 people participated in the last 10 rounds of government-organized family reunions since the first one in August 2000. During the period, 23,946 people confirmed the life or death and whereabouts of their separated family members, and 679 exchanged letters.

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