Mother and son separated by Korean War meet after 68 years


The 92-year-old South Korean woman wept and stroked the wrinkled cheeks of her 71-year-old North Korean son on Monday.

Almost 20,000 people have participated in 20 rounds of face-to-face reunions since 2000.

Most of those taking part are elderly people who are eager to see their loved ones once more before they die.

Crying and talking excitedly, the reunited relatives clasped one another and tried to bridge decades of separation through precious physical contact, pulling out pictures of absent relatives so they could be included in the happy occasion.

The reunification event will go until Wednesday, Yonhap said, giving families a total of 11 hours together by the end.

Tears were flowing at the emotional reunion between roughly 330 South Koreans, spanning 89 families, and 185 of their long-lost family members from the neighboring North.

"I don't know when he will die".

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But after a rapid diplomatic thaw the North's leader Kim Jong Un and the South's President Moon Jae-in agreed to restart them at their first summit in April in the DMZ.

"I share fully with the disappointment of those who are not selected so I am trying with North Korean partners to try and find other solutions, huge numbers are waiting, the numbers are very much limited", he said.

South Korea sees the separated families as the largest humanitarian issue created by the war, which killed and injured millions and cemented the division of the Korean Peninsula into the North and South.

The first such family reunion in nearly three years started on Monday when a group of 89 South Koreans crossed the border to meet their family members at Mount Kumgang, a scenic resort in North Korea. They showed photos of family members who couldn't come to their meetings.

"I've lived this long to meet you", the 85-year-old replied, as she clutched a photo of her brother from when he was younger.

"Whenever I saw pretty clothes, I always thought how cute they would look in them", she said.

During the three years since the reunions were last held, North Korea tested three nuclear weapons and multiple missiles that demonstrated they potentially could strike the continental United States.

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Haas said South Koreans were discouraged from gifting cash, out of fear it would be confiscated by the North Korean government.

She could only say "Ah" and "When I fled." before choking up with tears.

Another 337 South Koreans will be granted reunions later this week.

While the gathering of families separated by the Korean War of 1950-53 reflects the reduction in tensions between the two Koreas, the gesture comes far too late for some.

Starting on Thursday, there will be a meeting of another 88 groups of relatives, 469 from the South and 128 from the North, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry. Monday's event included the families of a prisoner of war and five people abducted by North Korean authorities during the conflict - though six South Koreans they had hoped to meet had died.

These brief meetings are likely the last and only time many will see each other.

Analysts say North Korea sees the reunions as an important bargaining chip and doesn't want them expanded because they give its people better awareness of the outside world.

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Ahn Seung-chun was headed to North Korea to see family members she's never met.