S Korea begins survey on families separated in Korean War

Seoul: The South Korean unification ministry on Monday said it has begun a survey of over 55,000 families who were separated during the 1950-53 Korean War.

This comes after North Korea and South Korea agreed to hold a family reunion event by mid-August this year, as decided by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in during the historic inter-Korean summit at the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) on April 27 this year, Yonhap News Agency reported.

It is to be noted that the Korean War ended in an armstice agreement and not in a peace treaty. The two Korean leaders are still technically at war, although Moon and Kim had pledged at the inter-Korean summit that they will sign a peace treaty to end the six-decade Korean War formally.

The South Korean unification ministry said it will carry out the survey of around 57,000 registered families, checking on them whether they are alive or not and will they participate in a family reunion event or not.

Based on the response of the applicant’s keenness to join such an event, South Korea is expected to seek to confirm the survival of their family members and relatives present in North Korea, as per the report.

The ministry will also ask the registered families if they want to deliver video messages for their families living in North Korea.

The two Koreas agreed to hold a Red Cross meeting on June 22 to arrange the family reunion events. If held, it would the first time of its kind when a reunion event will be held since October 2015.

Earlier, South Korea had expressed keenness in holding family reunion events, but North Korea’s response has been tepid.

Instead, Pyongyang had asked Seoul to extradite its restaurant workers who defected to South Korea from China in 2016 as a precondition for the same, according to the report.

As per the latest data from the unification ministry, the number of separated families registered in South Korea stood at 132,134 in mid-May this year, out of which at least, 56,890 of them were still alive.

In a 2016 survey, the ministry found out that 74.7 percent of the separated families living in South Korea did not say whether their families and relatives were alive or not in North Korea. (ANI)