SEOUL, March 5 (Xinhua) -- South Korea offered Wednesday to hold talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) between Red Cross officials to discuss the topic on regularly holding family reunions.
Seoul's Unification Ministry said that it sent the notice of such proposal at around 11:15 a.m. local time. It offered to hold working-level contacts between Red Cross officials on March 12 at the Peace House, an administrative building in the South Korean side of the border village of Panmunjeom.
Unification Ministry spokeswoman Park Soo-jin told a press briefing that the suggestion came as a follow-up to President Park Geun-hye's recent calls for such discussion.
President Park proposed last Saturday to the DPRK regularizing the face-to-face reunion at a ceremony marking the 1919 nationwide uprising against the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule.
Park said during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday the Unification Ministry and the Red Cross should start consulting with their DPRK counterparts to realize regular reunions, exchange of letters, video reunions and confirmation of life and death between families separated by the Korean War.
The president said that time is running out for the separated families due to old age, noting at least 6,000 people should be allowed to meet their relatives per year to let the war-divided families meet their relatives at least once before they die.
Millions of Koreans have been separated since the three-year Korean War ended in armistice, not peace treaty, in 1953. Around 22,000 Koreans met their long-lost relatives at the 19 rounds of family reunions from 1985 to 2014.
The 19th round of the six-day family reunion ended on Feb. 25 in the DPRK's scenic resort of Mount Kumgang. Hundreds of Koreans met their long-lost relatives for the first time in six decades as they have been banned from exchanging letters and phone calls since 1953.
According to the government data, more than 70,000 South Koreans have been on the waiting list for the family reunion since 1988, with all the applicants expected to pass away within 20 years from now due to old age.