Hundreds of family members who have been separated since the end of the Korean War more than 60 years ago are being reunited for brief meetings over the next three days.
Tears were plentiful when the first round of nearly 400 South Koreans arrived at a mountain resort in North Korea to see their husbands, wives and siblings who they haven’t seen since the institution of the demilitarized zone that has been in effect ever since the end of the war in 1953, keeping relatives apart.
For many, this was the first time they’ve seen or spoken to these relatives since the war since any letters or communications with people living in the South must be approved by the North Korean government.
One such reunion took place between Lee Soon-kyu, who lives in South Korea, while her husband Oh In-Se remains in North Korea.
Reporters were present for their reunion, and the Associated Press noted how Lee Soon-kyu craned her head backwards as she looked at her husband, dressed in a dapper suit and tie.
This week’s reunions are the first to take place since February of last year.
Preference was given to elderly reunion applicants, according to the AP, and nearly half of the more than 130,400 South Koreans who have applied to attend a reunion have died before they were given the chance. Now, a computerized lottery system selects which South Koreans are selected.
Another pair who were reunited at the latest round were Kim Bock-rack and his sister Kim Jeon-soon, who lives in North Korea. Kim Bock-rack wept when he saw his sister at the Diamond Mountain resort today.
The meetings between the separated relatives and spouses are organized by the Red Cross and the lucky hundreds who are selected must go through interviews and pass medical examinations to make sure that they are fit to travel before being approved, according to the BBC.
The first round of South Koreans will be meeting their relatives from today through Thursday, and then a second group of 250 people will be visiting Saturday through Monday, the BBC reported.
Many of the visiting South Koreans bring medicine, cash and clothing for their North Korean relatives, the AP reported.