Over 60 percent of the South Koreans seeking reunions with family members separated from them by the 1950-53 Korean War are aged 80 or older, government data showed Tuesday, highlighting the urgency of the issue.
Among 55,987 South Korean survivors who have registered to be reunited with their long-lost loved ones in North Korea, 34,546, or 61.7 percent, were aged 80 or older as of December, according to the unification ministry data.
A total of 133,208 South Koreans have signed up as separated family members since 1988. Of those, 77,221 have died in the past three decades, including 322 people in December alone.
South Korea had pushed to hold a round of video reunions around the Lunar New Year's Day holiday, but the plan failed to materialize as more time was needed to win sanctions exemptions for equipment that would have to be sent to the North for the event.
President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed at their third summit in Pyongyang in September to cooperate in allowing separated families to hold video reunions and exchange video messages.
Since the first-ever summit of their leaders in 2000, the Koreas have held 21 rounds of face-to-face family reunion events, including the most recent one in August.
The Koreas remain technically at war as the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap News)