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Ministry of Unification formulates third master plan for the promotion of exchanges between separated families (2020-2022)

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고민석
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2019-12-31
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Ministry of Unification formulates third master plan for the promotion of exchanges between separated families (2020-2022)

December 31, 2019

 □ On December 31, the Ministry of Unification established the third master plan for exchanges between separated families for the next three years (2020-2022).
 
  o Article 5 of the Act on Inter-Korean Confirmation of the Life or Death of Separated Families and Promotion of Exchange states that the Minister of Unification shall formulate a master plan for the promotion of exchanges between inter-Korean separated families (hereinafter referred to as “master plan”) every three years.
 
  o The Ministry of Unification implemented the second master plan over the last three years (2017-2019), and drafted the third master plan through discussions with related agencies and consultations with experts.

 □ The Ministry, considering the situational changes, supplemented and developed the existing master plan with a focus on the following aspects.

  o Plans to restore and open the Reunion Center for the Separated Families at Mount Geumgang, hold video reunions, and exchange video messages as agreed in the Pyongyang Joint Declaration of 2018 were added to the master plan.

  o Considering the urgency of the issue, the Ministry sought specific measures for aging separated families such as the promotion of additional exchanges of families that have once had chances of reunions.

  o The master plan calls for expanding the definition of ‘separated families’ to include those living overseas and special separated family members such as Korean War prisoners of war (POWs), abductees, and those detained in North Korea.

 □ The third master plan has two goals, four strategies, six main tasks, and twenty-two specific tasks for the fundamental resolution of the separated family issue, and the tasks are as follows.

①  The government will push forward to diversify and regularize exchanges between separated families at the inter-Korean government level.
 
   - It will pursue inter-Korean negotiations with the goal of regularizing and normalizing face-to-face reunions, video reunions and exchanges of video messages; and realizing visits to hometowns, confirmation of life or death of separated families and exchange of letters.
 

②  The government will vitalize private and personal exchanges of separated families.
 
   - It will review new exchange methods including hometown visits. It will revise the guidelines on the subsidization of expenses for exchanges of separated families to support additional reunions.
 
③  The government will strive to address the issues of special separated family members.
 
   - While recognizing the issues of special separated family members as the primary responsibility of the government, it will seek to resolve issues concerning Korean War POWs, abductees, and those detained in North Korea. It will handle the repatriation of North Korean residents, ships, and bodies under humanitarian grounds and in close cooperation with related agencies.

④  The government will establish a foundation for exchange between separated families.
 
   - While striving for an early opening of the Reunion Center at Mount Geumgang and regular reunions of separated families, it will produce video messages, conduct genetic tests, update the separated family register, and carry out a survey on the actual state of separated families as planned.

⑤  The government will build consensus on policies concerning separated families.
 
   - It will see to it that more low-income separated family households are invited to events arranged to console the separated families. It will allow for more separated family members to participate in counseling programs to improve their mental health.

   - It will build consensus on the issues of separated families and preserve their history and culture by creating consolation and commemoration areas and sculptures; supporting the production of creative works through medium including music festivals and soap operas; and lending out more collections and records.

⑥  The government will expand the beneficiaries of policies concerning separated families.
 
   - Through opportunities such as policy briefings, it will help second and third generation separated family members, female members, and those living overseas who are not yet listed on the separated family register to file applications for locating separated families.

 □ Based on the third master plan, the government will make utmost efforts to resolve the issues of separated families.
 
  o It will continue to work to diversify and regularize exchanges of separated families. If the North does not respond to cooperation requests, the government will explore alternatives and create favorable conditions to ensure the resolution of the issues.