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Separated families hold second round of family reunions

Posted February. 24, 2014 07:37,   


"There was another sea of tears"

People did not stop crying after finding their family members from the other side of the border alive in 60 years at Mt. Kumgang resort in the second inter-Korean family reunion on Sunday. Eighty eight North Koreans and 357 South Koreans embraced each other and lamented over their separation.

The 357 South Koreans gathered at Hanwha Condo in Sokcho, Gangwon Province, on Saturday. They left Sokcho at 8:20 a.m. on Sunday and arrived at Mt. Kumgang tourist district at 1:20 p.m. The family reunion, which started at 3:07 p.m., soon turned into a sea of tears.

Kwon Eung Ryol, Kim Hui Yong, and Park Jong Song, who are 88 years old and the eldest men in the North Korean group, shed tears. When Kim’s sister from the South, 80, saw Kim, she yelled his name and dropped on the floor and sobbed. Kim was also on the verge of tears, saying, “I wrote down the lyric of ‘my hometown’ on the family picture and sang the song all the time looking at the picture.”

Park Jong Song’s three sisters from the South who grasped their brother’s picture in their hands ran to him when their brother showed up at the site. After checking their parents’ picture and asking their dates of birth to him, they embraced him and broke into tears.

Lee Oh-soon, 96, the oldest person in the South Korean group went to the reunion event with her sister and nephew. She held the hands of her North Korean brother Cho Won Jae and broke into tears, saying, “Thank you, thank you.” As Lee’s father did not put her on his family register, she was added to her father-in-law’s family register. Cho Won Jae said, “How long has it been? I thought you weren’t alive.”

Unlike the first round of the 19th inter-Korean family reunion, the second round will be hosted by the South and 88 North Koreans will be invited. The second round will involve 357 South Koreans visiting North, and the number is more than double of the number of North Koreans or 178 of the first round. Since the 17th reunion on Sept. 17, 2009, the group family reunions hosted by the South have been held at Mt. Kumgang resort.

The families in the first round of the inter-Korean family reunion – 80 South Koreans and their 56 accompanying family members, and 174 North Koreans -- had to say goodbye on Sunday after spending two days and three nights together. The South Korean group returned home after leaving Mt. Kumgang at 1 p.m. Two elderly South Koreans had to return to the South with their South Korean families on Friday due to health problems.

Key Resolve, the Korea-U.S. joint command post exercise (CPX), begins from Monday, the second day of the second round of reunions, through March 6 in Korea. In addition, the Foal Eagle field training exercise will run through April 18. Around 12,700 U.S. troops including U.S. forces based in South Korea and reinforcements will participate in the drills, which will be similar to other years. The South Korean military forces is said to maintain a “low key” approach refraining from excessive exposure or promotion of drills in consideration of the improvement of the inter-Korean relationship such as the inter-Korean agreement on the suspension of mutual slander and the inter-Korean family reunion events.