Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - South Korea's Unification Ministry plans to produce digital albums that contain video messages from South Koreans for their relatives across the border amid stalled exchange visits of the families displaced by the Korean War, its chief Yu Woo-ik told The Korea Herald.
The ministry has recently made sample compact discs and will shortly allocate money from its budget for full-fledged operations, he said, without elaborating on the exact amount.
"The resumption of family reunions is the most urgent task that can no longer be postponed because the vast majority of the surviving members of the separated families are now over 70 and more than half are over 80," Yu said in a recent interview.
"With the North not responding to our proposal, we've begun recording videos of them as the last resort. The ministry will speed up production and keep it until the next meeting."
Family reunions between the two Koreas were suspended after October 2010 following the North's sinking of a South Korean warship and artillery firing on a border island in the West Sea earlier that year. The communist regime denies its responsibility.
Despite Pyongyang's earlier rejection, Yu said his proposal for a fresh round of family gatherings was still "valid."
The ministry said in February that 78,902 of the 128,678 South Koreans registered since 1999 remain alive, meaning that more than 4,000 have died every year.
Out of the survivors, 8.3 percent were aged over 90, 39 percent were in their 80s, 39 percent in their 70s and 12 percent in their 60s.