Separated families on the Korean peninsula: Global perspective 남북 이산가족에 대한 국제사회 시각


The three-year war on the Korean peninsula
also split up hundreds of thousands of families. Most of them never got to reunite with their
loved ones, and those still living are very old with hopes dwindling of seeing their family
members one last time. There is growing consensus that the international
community should do more to help. Our Moon Conn-young was recently in Geneva
to find out what can be done. Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, there has been
virtually no contact between the citizens of the North and the South, including the
many families who were divided during the turmoil. June 9, 2013
South and North Korea hold first official talks in two years For the past six decades, and as recently
as earlier this month, the fate of these families has been swayed by the political climate on
the peninsula. June 11, 2013
Proposed inter-Korean talks break down The international community has begun to take
note of the issue of Korea’s divided families. “I think there is a need for a paradigm shift.
There are different agencies that can play that role. The International Committee of
the Red Cross is very good at these kinds of tracing and connection of families.” The International Committee of the Red Cross. A huge chunk of its work is devoted to locating
people in times of crisis and putting them back into contact with their families. It’s
part of the mandate that was given to them by the Geneva Convention in 1949. From Congo to East Timor, at every corner
of the globe… where families are torn apart by war… the ICRC is there to lend a helping
hand, to show them the way back to their loved ones. The family reunions of China and Taiwan in
early 1980s were made possible through the ICRC’s family tracing service known as the
Central Tracing Agency. “The ICRC at the time played the role of intermediary
between Beijing and Taipei. About 25-thousand families have gotten in touch again.” Could the same be done on the Korean peninsula? Activists point out that many attempts have
been made to address the issue bilaterally between the two Koreas, but they haven’t yielded
results. Maybe, they say,… it is time to explore
other options. ” Those at various international organizations
say the focus with regards to North Korea has almost exclusively been on North Korea’s
nuclear programs and the deplorable human rights situation in North Korea and while
they are of enormous importance, they should not be able to overshadow the tens of thousands
of family members on both sides of the border separated by the Korean War. And, the first step to resolve this problem
would be a global recognition that this, too, is a human rights issue. Moon Conn-young, Arirang News, Geneva.”

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