Separated family members await next week's family reunions
"Hope you enjoy the Chuseok holiday. Thank you for coming."
For 86-year-old Heo Kyung-ok, Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving holiday, was just another busy day at work, not an occasion for family gatherings.
She has been separated from her family for more than 60 years since leaving her hometown of Gaeseong in North Korea for what was supposed to be a short trip to the South.
"I didn't know that Gaeseong would be blocked. I thought I would return soon. I left in spring and I thought I would be back by fall. But it's taken this long."
This Chuseok, Kyung-ok is all smiles as she awaits to reunite with her sisters next week after six decades of separation.
She is one of the lucky 96 divided family members from the South that will travel to North Korea's Mount Geumgang next Wednesday for the first round of family reunions.
Millions of Koreans were separated from their families during the Korean War in the 1950s and time is running out for them to see each other again.
Nearly 80 percent of the participants from both Koreas selected for next week's meeting are over the age of 80.
There are still more than 70-thousand separated family members in the South, like Kyung-ok, waiting to be reunited with their loved ones some day.
But for those attending the reunion, three days will not be enough to catch up for the 60 years they were separated.
"How they have been. How they have lived. I want to know all these things. How their lives have been."
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News.
Reporter : email@example.com