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61,322 S. Koreans longing to see separated family members in N. Korea

61,322 S. Koreans longing to see separated family members in N. Korea

Posted May. 04, 2017 07:17,   

Updated May. 04, 2017 07:33


The number of South Korean members of families separated across the border since the 1950-53 Korean War has reduced to slightly 61,322 due to aging.

According to data released by the Ministry of Unification on Wednesday, there were 61,322 surviving members of separated families who applied for a reunion with their families in North Korea as of March 31 this year, down by 315 from a month earlier. During the one month period, 321 family members died, while there were six new applicants for a family reunion. The government tallies the number of separated people, based on figures of those who apply for family reunions. While the actual number of separated families is believed to be far greater, the government has no other way to count them.

Since 1988 when separated families were allowed to apply for reunions with their families in the North, a total of 131,172 people have submitted their applications as of the end of March. Among them, more than half of them have died. Nearly 3,400 people died last year alone.

According to the government, there were 19,928 people were reunited with their long lost families in the North in 4,185 cases between the first inter-Korean family reunion event in 1985 and the latest one in October 2015. Another 3,748 people had a video reunion with their families in North Korea, while 679 others exchanged letters. Nearly 58,000 people found out about the fates of their separated family members in the North.

Sung-Ha Joo zsh75@donga.com