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Sunday, 16 July, 2000, 05:16 GMT 06:16 UK
Koreas exchange reunion lists
Park Yun-dam, 86, who lived in North Korea before the war
Applying to see relatives not seen for 50 years
North and South Korean officials have exchanged the names of several hundred people hoping to be reunited with relatives on the other side of the border whom they have not seen for more than 50 years.

The reunions are due to take place in August under an agreement reached during last month's historic meeting between the South Korean President, Kim Dae-jung, and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il.

Each country will select 100 people to cross the border for three days.

Korean map
Thousands of Korean families were separated after the peninsula was divided into the communist north and capitalist south in 1948.

Family reunions have previously been officially permitted only once, in 1985, when 50 people from each side were allowed to cross the border to visit their relatives.

Reunion selection

North and South Korean Red Cross societies exchanged the lists on Sunday.

Lists of 200 candidates from each country were handed over at Panmunjom, a village in the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas.

Each side will find out whether the named family members are still alive and where they live, and notify each other of the results on 26 July.

Kim Dae-Jung and Kim Jong-Il
The reunion scheme was agreed at June's historic summit
After the checks, 100 from each side would be selected for the exchange visits to Seoul and Pyongyang from 15-18 August.

Earlier this month, the shortlist of candidates for the reunion was selected through a computer draw.

A computer program randomly selected 400 out of 75,000 registered names.

About 1.2 million people fled North Korea during the 1950-53 war and settled in the South.

The border is still heavily fortified and there is no mail or telephone communication between the countries. North and South Korea are still officially at war.

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See also:

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