S. Korean advance party heads to N. Korea ahead of family reunions

SEOUL, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- A group of South Korean Red Cross officials crossed the border into North Korea Friday to arrange accommodations for South Korean families who are scheduled to meet with their relatives in the North next week.

The advance party of about a dozen Red Cross officials entered North Korea via the border office on the east coast and headed to the venue of the temporary family reunions at the Mount Kumgang resort.

The reunions, scheduled for Sept. 25-30, are expected to bring together more than 90 South Koreans and their family members in the North, who were separated in the 1950-53 Korean War.

The event comes amid a thaw in inter-Korean relations following months of tensions sparked by North Korea's third nuclear test in February and its closure of a joint industrial park in the North's border city of Kaesong in April.

The two Koreas have yet to agree on lodgings for the visiting South Korean families, with the sides reportedly proposing different hotels at the mountain resort.

If the reunions take place, they will be the first in three years.

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