World News

Factbox: Korean families separated by war and abduction

SEOUL (Reuters) - The rival Koreas hold a reunion of families this weekend separated after the 1950-53 Korean War at a mountain resort in the North.

Following are some facts about separated Korean families:

* About 127,000 in the South reported in 1988 that they believed missing family members were in the North. About 45,000 of these South Koreans have died since then, with most of them never taking part in reunions, the South Korean government said.

* Border crossings were possible before the Korean War at places not heavily guarded. Numerous North Korean civilians followed the North’s army when it advanced deep into the South in the early stages of the war. Many stayed after the troops were forced back.

* After the war, travel between the two Koreas ended for civilians, phone lines were cut and the mail service ceased. A heavily patrolled four-km (2.5 mile) wide buffer zone running the length of the entire peninsula was drawn up between the two states with razor wire fences and land-mine strewn fields.

* The first of only two summits between the leaders of the two Koreas in 2000 led to the first round of family reunions. Seventeen rounds have taken place, the last in September 2009.

* An additional 3,748 people have spoken to family members on the other side of the border over a closed-circuit video link beginning in 2005.

* South Korea has pressed the North for answers on more than 540 prisoners of war and 480 civilians thought to have been abducted during and after the war and believed held in the North.

* North Korea has said only 10 South Korean POWs and 11 civilians were alive there. It has refused to bargain on the issue, saying no one was being held against their will.

Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Jeremy Laurence