New unification minister to visit video reunion center next week

SEOUL, South Korea's new unification minister will visit a video reunion center for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War next week in his first major public activity after taking office, government officials said Thursday.

Kim Yeon-chul, newly sworn in as unification minister this week, plans to visit a video conferencing facility set up at the Korean Red Cross building in Seoul on Monday. It is one of 13 such facilities across the nation that have been undergoing repair work in preparation for a new round of video family reunions.

He also plans to hold talks with Red Cross chief Park Kyung-seo.

The visits will be Kim's first public activity since taking office, other than meeting lawmakers at the National Assembly.

A source said next week's schedule was decided "considering the importance of the separated families issue."

The separated families issue is one of the most pressing humanitarian matters for the Koreas as more aging Koreans have passed away without a chance to meet their kin across the border.

Since the first-ever summit of their leaders in 2000, the Koreas have held 21 rounds of face-to-face family reunion events, including the most recent one last August.

Separately, the two sides also held seven rounds of video reunions between 2005 and 2007.

South and North Korea remain technically at war as the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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