War-separated families’ reunion is put in doubt


Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea

North Korea said Friday that an August reunion of Korean families separated by war may not happen if South Korea doesn’t immediately return some of its citizens who arrived in the South in recent years.

The 2016 arrival of a group of 12 female employees from a North Korean-run restaurant in China has been a source of contention between the rival Koreas. North Korea has accused South Korea of kidnapping them, while South Korea says they decided to resettle on their own will.

North Korea has often used the women as a reason to rebuff South Korea’s repeated request to allow elderly citizens split during the 1950-53 Korean War to reunite with each other temporarily. But Friday’s statement is the North’s first attempt to link the fate of the women to the August reunion and comes amid worries that a global diplomacy to push the North to give up its nuclear weapons is making little headway after months of detente.

The North’s state-run Uriminzokkiri website said that the reunion and overall inter-Korean ties could face “obstacles” if Seoul doesn’t send back the women.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said it has no comment on the Uriminzokkiri dispatch.

There has been mounting speculation that some of the 12 North Korean women might have been truly duped into coming to South Korea.

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