North Korea said Wednesday that it will accept the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Council to help the thousands of families separated by the inter-Korean border.
It was responding to a periodic review the Council conducts on all member states every five years.
Since the 1950 to 53 Korean War, over 133-thousand people in South Korea have registered as having immediate family in the North.
There have been 21 official reunions since 2005, using a lottery system to enable a small fraction of them to meet.
But with the meetings largely at the mercy of the political mood between the two Koreas, human rights observers have called for the two sides to hold reunions on a regular basis, especially as more than half the people are 80 or older.
"Well our office has for a long time been advocating for assisting or having a human rights approach to the issue of family separation and we've talked about different kinds of separated families of those who were separated by the war but also victims of abductions by North Korea during and after the war and they need to make sure that contact can be restored in a humane and positive way. Also things like restoring contacts in other ways through telephone or communication via letter"
The North said it will accept 132 of the 199 total recommendations brought forward by the UN council earlier this year, including better protection of the rights of the disabled.
However, it did not accept recommendations that scrap its political prison camps, its use of forced labor or requests that it give humanitarian workers unimpeded access to the North Korean population.
"It's also evident that there are serious human rights violations that are continuing both in terms of civil and political rights and also in terms of fulfilling basic economic rights and needs of the population. Our understanding is that if North Korea said that these recommendations don't reflect the reality on the ground in North Korea. So that's one of the reasons that they're not being, maybe, accepted."
Still, observers hope the North makes steady progress in heeding international criticism of its human rights situation, and actually implements the recommendations that it has accepted.
"The UN Human Rights Council is expected to officially adopt the periodic report around September 20th during its regular session in Geneva.
Oh Sooyoung, Arirang News."