South Korea asks North Korea for meeting to resume family reunifications over north-south border

Famously hermitic North Korea unlikely to accept invitation.

Updated: September 8, 2022 - 12:40pm

South Korean officials this week proposed to meet with the North Korean government over the possibility of restarting a program of family reunification between the two countries—a thorny issue the resumption of which North Korea is unlikely to easily accept. 

Periodic exchanges of family members separated by the country's 1953 division haven't occurred since 2019. A high-ranking South Korean official this week said the two nations should resume the practice before the older separated family members—many of whom are in their 70s and 80s—pass away.

"The South and the North should confront the painful parts of the reality. We must solve the matter before the term 'separated families' disappears," Unification Minister Kwon Youngse said during a televised address. "We need to use all possible means immediately to come up with quick and fundamental measures."

Famously hermetic and unwilling to engage with the rest of the world, North Korea is by-and-large reluctant to parlay with South Korea on any diplomatic measures. 

The autocratic government of Pyongyang, dominated by the Kim family for decades, has in the past reportedly only chosen citizens to reunite with their family members in the south if they are deemed sufficiently loyal to the one-party ruling government of the north.