Ministry says no change in inter-Korean family meeting plan yet despite typhoon

SEOUL/SOKCHO, South Korea, Aug. 23 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification ministry said Thursday that it has no plan yet to change the schedule of an inter-Korean family reunion event, even though a powerful typhoon is set to batter the peninsula.

Typhoon Soulik is on track to pass over the peninsula on Friday, according to weather agencies.

Mount Kumgang on North Korea's east coast, the venue for the meeting of families split by the 1950-53 Korean War, will likely soon come under the storm's direct influence.

Dozens of elderly South Koreans met with their North Korean families earlier this week. A second batch of 337 South Koreans is supposed to head to the mountain resort by bus on Friday for the three-day reunion event.

They gathered in the afternoon in the South's eastern city of Sokcho amid concerns that the typhoon may affect the reunions.

"I wish the weather will be good tomorrow. I hope that everything will go smoothly as planned because the typhoon could delay the event," said Jun Min-keun, 57, who will meet his uncle in the North.

President Moon Jae-in instructed the government to swiftly reconsider the schedule and related conditions if necessary, as the typhoon is likely to batter the meeting place. It's moving slowly northward along South Korea's west coast, according to weather agencies.

Moon noted that many of those who will cross the border are in their 70s and 80s.

But the Ministry of Unification said the two Koreas are preparing to hold the family reunion event as scheduled.

"For now, (we) plan to proceed with the separated family reunion event," a ministry official said. "In particular, we are making every effort for safety measures and (related) facilities checks."

Around 40 officials from the government, the Korean Red Cross and Hyundai Asan, a firm that built facilities in the region to help facilitate South Koreans' visits there, are double-checking the meeting venue and hotels.

In case it is necessary to alter the schedule, the government will consult with the North, the official added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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