SEOUL, S.Korea - South and North Korea on Tuesday exchanged results of their search for long-lost relatives as they prepared to resume reunions for families separated for more than half a century.
In a programme organised by each side's Red Cross, families divided by barbed wire and minefields since the 1950-53 war will be reunited briefly between September 26 and October 1.
The humanitarian programme was suspended for two years as ties between Pyongyang and Seoul's conservative government grew frostier. The communist state has agreed to resume them as part of a series of recent peace overtures.
The North asked the South to trace relatives of 200 North Koreans. Seoul located 1,387 people who have family links to 159 of the 200 people.
The result of North Korea's search for relatives of Southerners was to be made public later.
Each side will pick a final list of 100 people who will meet relatives at the North's scenic Mount Kumgang resort. The reunions normally last for three days.
The South will choose its final list based on the age and health of applicants, many of whom are desperate to see loved ones before they die.
Tens of thousands of families have been separated since the war. There are no civilian mail or telephone services between the two countries.
The reunion programme began in earnest after the first cross-border summit in 2000 eased tensions between the historical enemies.
More than 16,000 Koreans from both sides have held face-to-face meetings since then, while 3,200 others have communicated through video links.
But an estimated 600,000 people in the South alone are believed to have relatives in the North.
Following a year of sabre-rattling, including missile launches and a nuclear test this year which brought tougher United Nations sanctions, the North began making conciliatory gestures towards Washington and Seoul in August.
It freed two US reporters after ex-president Bill Clinton visited Pyongyang, released five detained South Koreans, and eased border curbs for visitors from the South.
The reunions will take place just before Korea's Chuseok (Thanksgiving) day, one of the year's two most important holidays.