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500 family reunion candidates selected

Posted September. 10, 2015 07:16,   


Probability is 1/132.

At Korean Red Cross building in central Seoul on Tuesday, a random drawing was held to select winners for family reunion. In less than three minutes, 500 were selected among 66,000 candidates. The names of 10 people who came after applying failed to be chosen who sighed in sorrow.

"It was my fourth attempt but I failed again," said Koo Bon-sil (86), who came a long way from Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. "I wanted to check if the person I`m looking for is alive even if I couldn`t meet." Koo had parted with his then four-year-old son and his wife who was carrying their second baby during the January Fourth Retreat in 1951. "I still clearly remember my son toddling around," he said, unable to hide sorrow.

Cho Kap-soon (82), who was present at the drawing with her husband, Lee Chang-yong (93) who was born in Pyongyang, stayed at the site for some time after she knew she failed the drawing. "I barely slept last night and prayed. I`m very sad," she wiped off tears.

Jeong Se-hoon, 85, who came to the South alone leaving his parents and younger brother in Pyongyang during Korean War in 1950, also had to leave forlornly. "I had hesitated for a long time in applying for family reunion on fear that my family in North Korea could be affected if it was revealed that I defected to the South." he said. "I hoped to meet them when I was still able to walk in a healthy state."

Ahead of the draw, the Korea Red Cross had arranged criteria for selection. It decided to give priority to elderly people and family members in direct line. Among the 500 people chosen, half accounted for elderly people over 90 years old, while 500 family members of direct line were selected based on a computer program that gave additional points to them.

The Korea Red Cross will confirm whether they are willing to meet family in the North, and after reflecting health checkup will bring the number down to 200. Separately, 50 South Koreans kidnapped by North Korea and POWs will be selected. The list of 250 people will be sent to North Korea to check whether the people are alive. When the North sends confirmation on October 5, the final 100 people subject for reunion will be announced on October 8.