Six South Korean detainees are to be released by North Korea on Friday in a move seen as a desire to reduce tensions between the two countries.
The announcement came via the Red Cross of North Korea and could preserve a precarious peace that the two peninsula-sharing nations that have enjoyed with one another since the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War.
In a statement from South Korea's Unification Ministry, the nation will receive the six detainees in the border village of Panmunjom, The New York Times reported
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"Although it is belated, we consider it a good thing that the North has decided to take this humanitarian measure," the Unification Ministry said on Thursday. "We will get custody of our six citizens, verify their identities and find out how and why they entered the North."
The identities of the detainees have not been released.
North Korea described the individuals as men between the ages of 27 and 67, however did not provide any information pertaining to how long they've been held captive or for what reason, The Times noted.
In February 2010, North Korea announced that it was holding four South Koreans for illegal entry. Then again this past June, the North said it was holding "several" more South Koreans again for having allegedly entered the country illegally.
Since the end of the Korean War some six decades ago, several thousand South Koreans are said to have been taken by the North, a large percentage of which have been fishermen, according to The Times. North Korea has repeatedly denied ever holding any of these individuals against their will.
In addition to the detainee release, the Associated Press reported
that North Korea also announced it would be inviting 24 South Korean lawmakers to tour the jointly run Kaesong factory park.
North Korea is reportedly seeking to expand the Kaesong complex's operations, where shoes, textiles and other products are made by low-paid workers.
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