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Family Reunion Day 2

Updated: 2014-02-21 16:12:30 (KST)
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On this Friday at North Korea's Mount Kumgang resort the second day of a three-day reunion between families separated since the Korean War is quickly coming to an end.
For the old and fragile reunion participants who had not seen each other for the last 64 years, 11 hours through six separate occasions are much too short, much too painful.

The participants, on this second day of reunions, were initially scheduled to meet three separate times today for a total of 6 hours, but two families have had their reunions cut short.
For more on that and the day's events, we are joined live by Arirang News' Kim Ji-yeon from our news center.
Good evening, Ji-yeon.

The unexpected turn of events happened during the first session of reunions this morning, when two South Korean participants had to head back home due to health problems.
Ninety-one-year-old Kim Sun-kyung and 84-year-old Hong Shin-ja, did get to meet individually with their loved ones from the North yesterday and today, but had to do so in ambulances this morning.
Kim met his daughter and his son, and Hong, who is a retired nurse, met her younger sister, who told her ailing sister before leaving that she was glad to have met her again and would wait for her until reunification.
The early departure of Kim and Hong is a reminder that time is running out for the many families who have been waiting more than 60 years to reconnect with their relatives, and most of those waiting are now in their 80s and 90s.

Now Ji-yeon, these are the first reunions in nearly three-and-a-half years. For those that may not know, why aren't these reunions held on a more regular basis?

The high tensions between the two Koreas are the main reason.
The North even threatened to cancel this round of reunions, like they did last year in protest against annual joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington, which are set to start next week.
And then there are the threats.
It was just last year that Pyongyang threatened to launch nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington, and it was less than four years ago that two separate attacks blamed on the North killed 50 South Koreans.
That's why many were suprised when North Korea decided to honor its earlier promise to allow this round of reunions.
But Pyongyang is unpredictable, and many are worried that the North will pull the cord on a second round of reunions scheduled to start Sunday if South Korea and the U.S. go ahead with joint military drills that are set to begin on Monday.

Assuming the reunions go ahead without a hitch, what's next?

The third and final event of today, with separated families gathering together for a ceremony, began at 4 p.m. and wrapped up a short while ago.
With the return of the two South Korean participants earlier, there are just 80 South Korean family members, along with 56 family members at Mount Kumgang.
The participants have one more day to spend with their families on Saturday before heading back home the same day.
A second group of about 360 South Koreans plans to visit the Mount Kumkang resort on Sunday to meet with 88 of their North Korean relatives.
That round of reunions wraps up on Tuesday.

That was Kim Ji-yeon reporting about the cross-border reunions of families separated by the Korean War.


Reporter : jiyeonkim@arirang.co.kr

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