In the News – S. Korea to resume recording video messages for separated families


In the News – S. Korea to resume recording video messages for separated families

SEOUL, July 16 (Yonhap) — South Korea will resume recording video messages of families here who parted from their parents, children or siblings in the North during the Korean War, officials said Monday.

Since the first summit meeting between the two divided Koreas in 2000, the two countries have arranged reunions of separated family members twice or three times a year.

But the humanitarian events came to a halt in September 2010, amid the deepening Inter-Korean political tensions. As part of the reunion gatherings, video messages from families in the South are given to their family members in the North for those who cannot travel to the event location.

Several thousand separated family members die every year, yearning to reunite with their spouses, children or siblings whom they had to part with due to the 1950-53 Korean War and the truce which left the Korean Peninsula divided thereafter.

“We decided to produce video messages, which are to be delivered to family members in North Korea after the reunion events restart,” a government official said. The decision to resume the video messages after a four-year hiatus was made because an increasing number of divided family members in the South are dying of old age, the official said.

The South Korean Red Cross, which took over the video project from the Ministry of Unification, will start the production after conducting a demand survey among all the separated family members in South Korea next month, the official said.

“It is deplorable that about 3,000-4000 divided family members pass away every year due to old age,” a Red Cross official said. “The video messages will feature family members’ living images as well as their messages to families in the North.”

As of the end of June, a total of 128,713 people were registered with the government as having family members in the North. Among them only 77,122 are alive. Nearly 80 percent of those alive are now over the age of 70.

Original Article


In the News – King urges N. Korea to stop punishing repatriated defectors


In the News – King urges N. Korea to stop punishing repatriated defectors

WASHINGTON, March 13 (Yonhap) — The U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues demanded in this week’s U.N. meeting that Pyongyang stop punishing forcefully repatriated defectors.

Robert King, attending a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday (local time), shared “deep concerns” about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers from the North, according to a transcript of his remarks released by the State Department
“We urge the DPRK to end the punishment and imprisonment of North Koreans who have sought asylum abroad, as well as their family members,” he said. The DPRK stands for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

A growing number of North Koreans cross the border into China, fleeing their authoritarian and perennially hungry homeland. Beijing, a key communist ally of Pyongyang, has a firm policy of sending them back.

King also called for Pyongyang to allow a visit by Marzuki Darusman, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea. The secretive nation is accused of oppressing many of its 24 million people.

“We hope the DPRK will work with Mr. Darusman, and recognize the benefits of cooperating with the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and thematic special rapporteurs,” King said. “The DPRK could use this opportunity to obtain valuable assistance from international human rights mechanisms. We urge the DPRK to allow the special rapporteur to visit the country and fulfill his mandate to observe and assess the human rights situation.”

He stressed the importance of resuming inter-Korean dialogue and the reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

“We appreciate the modest progress between DPRK officials and the American Red Cross on family reunions between Korean-Americans and family members in the DPRK, but we seek greater progress in this area,” King said.

Original article can be found here.

In the News – S. Korea to press N. Korea again to hold reunions of separated families


In the News – S. Korea to press N. Korea again to hold reunions of separated families

SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s point man on North Korea said Tuesday he will urge Pyongyang to accept Seoul’s offer to resume reunions of family members separated for nearly six decades.

The move came three days after North Korea rejected South Korea’s recent proposal to hold Red Cross talks to help arrange reunions of separated families.

The North has called for South Korea’s apology for not paying official respect over the December death of its leader Kim Jong-il as a key condition for resuming stalled bilateral talks.

South Korea expressed sympathy to the people of North Korea over Kim’s death but did not send an official mourning delegation to Pyongyang. Seoul did approve condolence trips by private delegations.

“I will urge North Korea” again to accept the issue of reuniting separated family members, Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik told reporters, without providing a specific time frame for his planned offer. Continue reading