Lee Soon-kyu, left, 85, one of 400 South Koreans who have family members in North Korea, is reunited with her 83-year-old husband, Oh In-se, at a resort on Mount Kumgang in North Korea. North Korea credited Kim Jong Un for the reunions. Photo by Yonhap
SEOUL, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- North Korea credited Kim Jong Un for the ongoing reunions of families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War, but Seoul is using the momentum to call for a summit of high-level officials.
The first round of reunions held in the resort area of Mount Kumgang in North Korea has generated extensive South Korea media coverage of emotional stories of families separated by war, The Washington Post reported.
Pyongyang, however, did not linger on the personal stories of people separated from their loved ones, instead crediting the North Korean leader's wise guidance and the "socialist system" for the gatherings.
"Those from the north told their separated families and relatives from the south about the fact that they and their families are enjoying a happy and worthwhile life in the Korean-style socialist system," Pyongyang's KCNA said in a statement.
North Korea also blamed "foreign powers" for the "tragic fragmentation" of the Korean people, but neither mentioned the United States nor Pyongyang's Cold War allies by name.
From Oct. 20-22, selected North Koreans met with their separated families, 400 South Koreans, and from Oct. 24-26 South Koreans are to spend time with their families residing in the North. In the upcoming second round of meetings, 250 South Koreans and about 190 North Korean relatives are to meet near Mount Kumgang.
At one point North Korea had threatened to cancel the reunions after Seoul urged an end to its nuclear weapons development, but the resumption of meetings has emboldened Seoul to make further inroads into rapprochement.
Yonhap reported South Korea's National Security Adviser Kim Kwan-jin, who brokered the deal to defuse tensions at the border on Aug. 25, said Seoul is looking into talks with Pyongyang at higher levels, and between Red Cross delegates on both sides.
Kim said there are many civic exchanges that need to be reestablished, and Seoul's Unification Ministry would support those goals.