S. Korea urges N. Korea to hold talks on family reunions

South Korea on Friday urged North Korea to hold talks on arranging reunions of separated families, a day after the North put on hold its proposal for talks on the issue.

"The issue of the separated families is purely humanitarian and we urge North Korea to hold talks with us and take active measures to resolve the issue," South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung Seok told a news briefing.

North Korea on Thursday put on hold its proposal made the previous day for talks with South Korea on reunions of families separated by the Korean War and on restarting tours by South Koreans to the North's resort of Mt. Kumgang.

The North's move was widely interpreted as a show of discontent toward South Korea's rejection of its offer for talks on reopening the suspended tourism program in the North's Mt. Kumgang, which is a source of hard currency.

South Korea rejected the offer on the tourism program on grounds that the talks should be put off until ongoing discussions on reopening suspended operations at the Kaesong industrial zone are concluded.

The two Koreas have held two rounds of talks in the past week to try to work out details to reopen the complex, which was shut down in early April when North Korea withdrew all its 53,000 workers. The next round is scheduled for Monday.

Seoul is pushing for strong safeguards to prevent another shutdown of the factory zone by the North. It also demands that the North apologize for causing considerable financial and other damages to the more than 100 South Korean companies with operations in Kaesong.

Millions of Koreans were separated by the three-year Korean War that ended in 1953. The last time family reunions took place was in November 2010.

The tour program, launched in 1998, has been suspended since 2008 when a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier.