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Tuesday, 8 August, 2000, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Koreans prepare for historic reunions
Hong Gil-moon, and her daughter Kim Suk-Bae display family albums
One South Korean family get ready to receive relatives
By Caroline Gluck in Seoul

Red Cross officials from North and South Korea have exchanged the names of 100 people from each side who will travel to each other's capitals next week for temporary family reunions.

The reunions, which are being planned for 15 August, were one of the key agreements to come out of a historic summit between the two Koreas in June.

Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung
The leaders pledged to end half a century of hostilities
Communication between citizens of the two countries has been officially banned for 50 years, since the Korean War and the division of the peninsula.

The only other official exchange took place 15 years ago.

More than 7 million South Koreans have relatives in the north.

Lottery shortlist

The two countries are technically still at war since their three-year conflict ended in 1953 in a truce and not a peace treaty.

The 100 family members will spend four days in each other's capitals.

They are among more than 70,000 South Koreans who applied to be reunited with their relatives in the north and were shortlisted by computer lottery.

Even so, these visits will be tightly controlled as every detail has to be jointly agreed by the two sides.

Forbidden gifts

Families will only have a limited amount of private time together and will not be allowed to visit their home towns.

On Monday, South Korean Red Cross officials sent out letters to selected candidates telling them not to bring gifts or cash worth more than $1,000 to the north.

The also reminded candidates that high-powered telescopes and cameras, as well as ideological books, were forbidden.

Meanwhile, in another sign of growing exchanges between the two countries, officials from South Korea's largest industrial conglomerate, Hyundai, travelled to the north with a gift of 500 cattle.

Officials from the company are expected to discuss the group's plans to build a major industrial complex in the north.

Hyundai, which already pioneers a tourism venture in the north, is facing mounting pressure to announce major restructuring plans amid a liquidity crisis.

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See also:

08 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hyundai takes cattle to N Korea
17 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea presses for family reunions
16 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
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World welcomes Korean sunshine
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Korea: No going back
14 Jun 00 | Media reports
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