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World Separated by the war, Koreans to meet in rare family reunion

01:57  16 august  2018
01:57  16 august  2018 Source:   aljazeera.com

Two Koreas agree on list of family reunion participants

  Two Koreas agree on list of family reunion participants The two Koreas have finalised a list of families separated by the Korean War whose members will be briefly reunited this month after decades of separation, Seoul said Monday. The two nations agreed in June to resume the reunions of families torn apart by the 1950-53 war, after a landmark meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South's President Moon Jae-in in April.A total of 93 people from the South will travel to the North's Mount Kumgang resort to meet their relatives, while 88 citizens of the North will meet their southern kin in a separate reunion at the resort, Seoul's unification ministry said.

South Korean families , separated from relatives living in North Korea , get their The reunions , at the Diamond Mountain resort in southeastern North Korea , are a rare but highly For more than six decades, they have been forbidden to exchange letters, phone calls or emails, much less to meet .

The reunions open a rare window onto one of the most emotional legacies of the Korean War. This week, reunited family members are allowed to spend 11 hours together over three days, including a three-hour private meeting and lunch, before being separated once again.

Lee Soo-Nam last saw his brother 68 years ago [Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera] © Provided by Al Jazeera Lee Soo-Nam last saw his brother 68 years ago [Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera]

Seoul, South Korea - On a December day in 1950, at the height of civilian evacuations during the Korean War, Lee Geum Shim managed to carry her newborn daughter onto a ship at the port of Hungnam.

But as she turned around, she realised that amid the chaos her husband and four-year-old son had failed to board the ship, the last one to set sail for South Korea as part of the Hungnam evacuation.

Shim realised it too late.

Now 94, she doesn't remember what her son looked like. But, unlike the majority of families separated by the 1950-1953 fighting, Shim will get a chance to meet him again after 68 years.

In Rare Move, North Korea Releases South Korean It Detained

  In Rare Move, North Korea Releases South Korean It Detained Although more than 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea in the past three decades, it is rare for South Koreans to enter North Korea illegally. And it is highly unusual, though not unprecedented, for the North to return them.In 2015, North Korea returned a South Korean student, then attending New York University, who had been held for months on charges of illegally entering the North from China. In 2014, it returned a South Korean man who fled to the North to escape personal economic difficulties.

We begin with the highly-anticipated inter- Korean family reunions . In what is sure to be an extremely emotional time, war- separated families on the

Families from both sides of the border meet in first reunions to be held for three years. “When I fled home in the war …” Han began to say, before becoming too choked up to speak. South Korean Kim Young-seok (left), 78, meets his North Korean relatives during a separated family reunion

Together with her daughter, she is one of 93 South Koreans who will visit the North later this month for a family reunion, the first such event in almost three years.

"I'm not sure if I'll be able to recognise him," Shim told Al Jazeera. "I don't even remember his face when he was four. I can't believe I will be meeting him. It feels like a dream."

A total of 88 people from the North will also get a chance to meet their families in the South during the six-day event, which starts on August 20 and takes place at Mt Kumgang north of the border.

The last reunion took place in October 2015, with the long break being down to the frosty relations between the two Koreas with threats of war looming over the peninsula late last year.

However, relations have since thawed - a historic meeting between leaders from both sides in April was preceded by a political and sports delegation visiting Seoul and Pyeongchang for the Winter Olympics.

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  Kids from different families share special bond thanks to donor father Families from five states across the country have created their own special relationship, after discovering their unique linkThe Tyk's from Texas and the Lau's from California are prepping for their annual reunion. But in this "family," none of the adults are related: It's the kids who are all half-brothers or sisters. All 10 are genetically related, and have a special nickname.

Rare family reunions could be the last for elderly Koreans . Millions of people were displaced by the conflict, which ended with an armistice rather than a Kim and Moon Jae-in meet in the border town of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that has divided the two Koreas since the Korean War in

Ninety-three South Koreans will board buses on Monday to meet their long-lost loved ones in Mt. Yoon married, joined the South Korean army as a military policeman and fought against the Communists during the war , all the time wondering what had become of his mother and his siblings.

In the past, the family reunions would be the relatives' first contact since being separated. Given the large pool of applicants and the limited number of spaces, it would also be their last.

According to South Korea's unification ministry, more than 132,000 people applied for the reunion which was cut down to 68.

Shim is not the oldest on the list this year - there are two people aged 100 or above.

Since 1988, more than 132,000 people have registered with the Red Cross in South Korea for the reunion programme. Over half of them have since died. With the reunion event an irregular one and people being selected randomly, the lucky few do get to meet family one last time.

Unlike Shim, Lee Soo-Nam remembers what his brother looked like when he last saw him. 

It was August 1950, during the Korean War, and the family was getting ready to go to the countryside when his brother was dragged away by North Korean soldiers who occupied Seoul briefly at that time.

Select few South Korean families head North to reunite with relatives

  Select few South Korean families head North to reunite with relatives Lee Keum-seom hasn't held her son in 68 years. The last time she saw him, Sang Chol was four years old, and together with her husband and their daughter, they were headed south, fleeing the fighting during the early days of the Korean War. In the mass of hundreds of thousands of others trying to escape, Lee and her daughter lost sight of her husband and Sang Chol. They continued south, becoming part of the flood of refugees who crossed what became the Demilitarized Zone. Only later did she discover that her husband and son remained on the other side of the divide, in North Korea.

The Korean War of 1950-1953 left the peninsula divided and people on the northern side were unable to leave. The South Koreans were chosen by lottery Millions of people were separated by the war . For the tens of thousands still alive in the South who have not been selected for the reunions there

It was the second day of a new round of reunions for families separated by the Korean War at North Korea 's Mount Kumgang on Monday. "My son bought two bags of candies, saying these are rare in North Korea . I wanted to bring more." Following Monday's closed-door individual meetings, the

Back then, it was routine for the North Koreans to take away young men, according to Soo-Nam, and use them as fighters in the war.

Soo-nam registered for the reunion 30 years ago and could not quite believe his luck when the phone rang and the Red Cross official told him his brother was alive.

"We all thought my brother died in the war. And if he was lucky enough to survive, I never thought I'd be able to see him again considering our ages now," said Soo-nam at his house in Itaewon, an area of Seoul he was born in and still lives in.

Soo-nam spread old family photos in front of him as he recalled his younger days. He then pulled out a high school certificate from an envelope.

"This is my brother's high-school certificate. I have kept it as his memory as I never thought I'd be able to see him again," added Soo-nam as he moved his hands on the certificate, feeling the paper as he paused and looked out of the door, deep in his thoughts.

"When I got that call, I asked the person if he was joking. I didn't talk about this with anyone. I kept it a secret. I couldn't believe my brother was alive and that I'd get to meet him. It was like a dream. But I already feel sad because this meeting would probably be the last time I see him." 

100s of S. Koreans to enter North to reunite with loved ones

  100s of S. Koreans to enter North to reunite with loved ones Elderly South Koreans have traveled to the border with North Korea ahead of family reunions with relatives in the North they've been separated from since the Korean War. The weeklong event beginning later Monday at North Korea's Diamond Mountain resort comes as the rival Koreas boost reconciliation efforts amid a diplomatic push to resolve a standoff over North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Only a fraction of the elderly Koreans separated by the Korean War are able to attend the on-and-off reunions organized by their rival governments. South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the many family members who have died without having a chance to meet their relatives “a shame for

After the emotional reunions , the South Korean family members held the hands of their North Korean relatives through the windows of the bus before it left the reunion venue. For many of those making the trip to Mt. Kumgang, it will be the last chance to meet separated loved ones. The reunions used to

Almost 36,000 out of the 57,009 people registered with the Red Cross who are still alive are aged 80 and above. More than 12,000 are over 90.

While Shim and Soo-nam were lucky enough to be selected, for thousands of other Koreans, time is running out after missing out on being shortlisted once again.

"I signed up for a reunion 30 years ago but have yet to be picked for one," 80-year-old Nam Gyu-hyeong had said earlier this year.

"While I would still like to be part of a reunion, I think the Red Cross and the authorities should've done something earlier. For me, there isn't much time left. Five of the nine people I fled North Korea with are dead already."

The reunions and humanitarian diplomacy depends on the general trend of North-South relations, according to the Korean Red Cross' Inter-Korean Cooperation. 

"Since 2008, there have been fewer face-to-face and video reunions," an official said.

"The figures of separated families here in South Korea are those who have voluntarily registered for the reunions. The actual number is quite different. A lot of individuals didn't register because they don't want to endanger the lives of their families in the North."

For people from either side, the reunion last for three days only. They will be prepped by authorities on both sides. Analysts say authorities in the North tell participants to ask for food rations and money.

Lee Shi Deuk, 95, says he is happy to oblige as he prepared to head out for some shopping before he meets his niece and nephews later this month.

"I'm preparing gifts for them but the suitcase I can carry is too small for everything that I want to give," said Deuk. "I just want to thank them for taking care of my father and sisters.

"Since last April, my health has deteriorated. Perhaps, I'm getting closer to death and this meeting has come at a good time."

With additional reporting by Sookyoung Lee

'The Moment We Met, Tears Rolled Down.' War-Torn Korean Families Describe What It Was Like to Be Reunited .
Flowing tears, joy and disbelief marked the reunion of scores of North and South Korean relatives this week , as members of 89 families came face-to-face after having been divided by war more than six decades ago. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s hours-long family reunions at North Korea’s Mount Kumgang tourist resort — to be followed by a second round of reunions Friday through Sunday — are both a sign of the growing détente between Seoul and Pyongyang and a reminder of the conflict that continues to divide them.

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