SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — South Korea on Monday began surveying South Koreans who would be willing to meet their war-separated relatives in North Korea for temporary reunions planned between the rivals as reconciliatory steps.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry says the surveys conducted through home visits, phone calls and letters will continue through Aug. 10.
South Korea lobbied hard for the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un planned Tuesday. Seoul says improved inter-Korean relations are important because Pyongyang wouldn’t be willing to give up its nuclear weapons unless it feels its security has been assured.
“We hope North Korea and the United States will be able to hold discussions based on mutual respect and understanding,” said Eugene Lee, the ministry’s spokeswoman. “Our government will continue to work closely with the international community and maintain sustained efforts to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to establish permanent peace.”
Kim’s summit with Trump, the first between incumbent North Korean and U.S. leaders, comes after a flurry of diplomatic activity that saw Kim twice meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in and also make two trips to China to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Koreas earlier this month agreed to establish a liaison office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong and hold military and Red Cross talks on reducing tensions and resuming reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
The military talks are planned for Thursday at a border village between the Koreas.