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Separated families reunite: entire nation turns into sea of tears

Separated families reunite: entire nation turns into sea of tears

Posted August. 15, 2000 19:48,   


August 15 this year marks the 55th anniversary of the nation`s liberation. On this day, 200 family members separated by the division of the Peninsula met with their families in Seoul and Pyongyang, embracing their kin for the first time in 50 years. A mother over the age of 100 grasping a cane held on to a daughter whose face was etched with wrinkles. A white-haired son burst into tears as he bowed with his forehead nearly touching the floor in front of his father, who was confined to a wheelchair. A wife who had remained unmarried for 50 years held in silence the hand of her husband, who had become a very old man. One man wept as he held his elder brother, who had been forced into the People`s Army. A son cried as he repeated over and over again that he had returned to his mother, who had lost her memory.

The venues of the family reunions, the COEX in Seoul and the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang, turned into a sea of tears within moments. Many wept, then looked into their relatives¡¯ faces and continued weeping. The clothes of many family members were soaked with tears. A nation sat transfixed in front of TV sets and cried with them. With the flood of tears, time, which had been suspended for the separated families, began to flow again. The tragedy of the nation`s division and the families¡¯ separation seemed to find a slight catharsis. For the reunion members, being alive long enough to have such a dream come true was an unimaginable gift.

The North`s delegation, which traveled to the South on a short 54-minute Air Koryo passenger flight, was the first since the division to come by a direct route from the North to the South. The North Korean flag was clearly visible on the tail of the aircraft when it slid down the runway. The South`s delegation took the place of the North`s delegation as it disembarked and left for Pyongyang. Both delegations consisted of 100 reunion participants, 30 designated entourage members and 20 media representatives. The North`s head delegate, Ryu Mi-Young, said in a statement after her arrival in Seoul that the walls of aggression and division had begun to crumble. The head of the South`s welcoming delegation, Chang Choong-Sik, answered that he hoped for a future where divided families could come together at will. After a dinner feast, the North and South Korean delegations slept their first night in lands they had both waited so long to dream in.