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Koreas start work on facilities

July 10,2018
South Korean workers began repairs on Monday of North Korean facilities that will host a reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

A delegation of 22 people led by the head of the Separated Families Division in the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, went to Mount Kumgang, an iconic mountain in North Korea’s southeastern Kangwon Province where the reunion will take place next month.

The delegation included workers from the Korean Red Cross, which is organizing the reunion; Hyundai Asan, a company within Hyundai Group that deals with inter-Korean business and will support the event; and contract technicians.

The ministry said repair work would last until an advance team of South Korean officials arrive at Mount Kumgang on Aug. 15 to perform final touches. Based on the progress of the work, the repair team will either stay throughout the project or take turns going back and forth from the South.

South and North Korea agreed late last month to hold a family reunion from Aug. 20 to 26 at Mount Kumgang. It was one of the results of the Panmunjom Declaration signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at their first summit on April 27. The two leaders promised to hold an event around Aug. 15 to commemorate Liberation Day, when Korea gained its independence from Japanese colonial rule during World War II.

The last family reunion was held in December 2015 during the administration of Park Geun-hye.

On July 3, both countries exchanged a list of people wishing to reunite with their family members and asked the other side to confirm whether their loved ones were alive and willing to participate.

South Korea sent a list of 250 people, while the North sent a list of 200. The two sides will compile a final list by Aug. 4.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]