Koreans reunited after 60 years

Hundreds of mostly elderly Koreans have began three days of reunions with loved ones many have had no contact with since war divided the North and South more than 60 years ago.

About 390 South Koreans travelled to the North’s scenic Diamond Mountain resort.

Dressed in business suits, formal dresses, and traditional hanbok, they brought long johns, medicine, parkas, calligraphy works, and cash to give as presents to about 140 family members in the North.

The reunions, as always, are a mixture of high emotion and media frenzy.

Journalists crowded around South Korean Lee Soon-kyu, 85, as she met her North Korean husband, Oh Se In, 83.

As camera flashes bathed them in glaring white light, she cocked her head and looked with amazement at Oh, who wore a dapper suit and hat and craned backward to take in his wife.

The images are broadcast throughout South Korea, where the reunions are big news.

North Korea’s government, which analysts believe worries that the scenes of affluent South Koreans might influence its grip on power, had not published any reports hours after the reunions began.

The deep emotions stem partly from the elderly reuniting after decades spent apart, partly from the knowledge that this will be their only chance.

The reunions, the first since February of last year, are a poignant yet bitter reminder that the Korean Peninsula is still in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 fighting ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

The Koreas bar citizens from visiting relatives on either side of the border and even from exchanging letters, phone calls, and emails without permission.

Rim Ri Kyu, the widow of famous North Korean mathematician Jo Ju Kyong, looked calm as she met her South Korean brother and relatives from the South.

She introduced her son to the visitors, and the relatives burst into laughter after Jo Ju-chan, the South Korean brother of Rim’s late husband, joked that her son resembled him.


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