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Separated families chat joyfully, exchange gifts in two capitals

Separated families chat joyfully, exchange gifts in two capitals

Posted December. 01, 2000 19:20,   


After spending a sleepless night Thursday in anticipation of meeting their loved ones individually for the first time in half a century, members of families separated between South and North Korea had joyful reunions at the Hotel Lotte World in Seoul and Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang Friday.

Compared with their first-day group meetings, which were marked by tension and high emotions, the South and North Korean visitors spent the following day in a more composed and comfortable manner as they held endless conversations about their activities over the past five decades.

The 100 North Korean visitors led by Jang Jae-On, chairman of the central committee of the North`s Red Cross, held morning and afternoon meetings with their South Korean relatives in guest rooms at the Hotel Lotte World.

But Kim Ki-Man, 71, a noted professor at Pyongyang Fine Arts College, met with his brother, renowned painter Kim Ki-Chang, 88, at Samsung Medical Center in the southern Seoul, where his brother is hospitalized due to illness.

The 100 South Koreans, led by Pong Du-Wan, vice president of the Korea National Red Cross (KNRC), also met with their North Korean kin in guest rooms at the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang. Unlike the first reunions, all of the South Koreans were able to meet with their relatives.

Both groups of reunion participants are scheduled to spend their final day together on Saturday at their hotels before returning to Seoul and Pyongyang via flights on North Korea¡¯s Koryo Air.

Meanwhile, the North Korean Red Cross officials accompanying the displaced families held contacts with their South Korean counterparts Saturday night and exchanged views on possible dates for holding inter-Korean Red Cross talks, the establishment of permanent reunion sites, confirmation of the whereabouts of the separated families and exchanges of correspondence.

Moon Chul fullmoon@donga.com