Almost 400 South Koreans — many of them elderly, some in wheelchairs, all in a state of nervous anticipation — gathered Monday before crossing into North Korea for a rare and emotional reunion with separated family members.
The reunion beginning Tuesday in the North Korean resort of Mount Kumgang will be only the second in the past five years — the result of an agreement the two Koreas reached in August to ease tensions that had pushed them to the brink of armed conflict. Millions of people were displaced by the sweep of the 1950-53 Korean War, which saw the frontline yo-yo from the south of the Korean peninsula to the northern border with China and back again.
The chaos and devastation separated brothers and sisters, parents and children, husbands and wives. “We were separated at the beginning of the war when I was just nine years old,” Choi Kum-Sun, 75, said of her elder brother in the North. “I had no idea that he was still alive, but then I got the notification that he wanted to see me. I still can’t believe it,” she wept. Read more