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Divided North, South Korean families meet again

SEOUL — North and South Korean families divided since the Korean War in the 1950s met again Friday in the latest set of reunions, a media report said.

Eighty-two selected South Koreans accompanied by 58 family members saw 180 relatives from the North at the coastal resort of Mount Kumgang in North Korea, the South's Yonhap News Agency said.

Family members who initially met Thursday were reunited again Friday in their hotel rooms at the resort. They were due to have lunch together at the hotel and meet later at a banquet hall.

A 91-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman from South Korea who attended the reunions by ambulance were to return home early because of health problems.

After the first round of meetings, 88 North Koreans selected by Pyongyang were to hold their own reunions in Kumgang from Sunday to Tuesday, with 361 relatives from the South.

The family gatherings are a sensitive and emotional issue for the two countries. Contact across their border through letters, emails or phone calls is usually impossible.

The first meetings were in 1985, with several more from 2000 to 2010. None have been held since October of that year.

The latest reunions come as tensions between the Koreas are running high ahead of joint military manoeuvres by US and South Korean forces scheduled for Monday.

Pyongyang threatened to cancel the latest reunions over the manoeuvres, which it condemns as provocation, but backed down after high-level talks.

North and South Korea remain technically at war because the 1950-53 conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty.

South Korea said Friday it would allow private aid organizations to send anti-tuberculosis drugs and powdered milk worth 1.06 billion won $988,000) to the impoverished North.
 

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