Faint hope for reunion for separated Korean families in U.S.Updated: 2014-02-24 09:22:44 (KST)
There was a ray of hope for 88-year-old Kim Bong-keon, when the two Koreas agreed to proceed with reunions for families separated since the Korean War earlier this month.
More than 60 years have passed since Kim last saw his sister, brother-in-law and cousin, who was in kindergarten when he fled North Korea.
"I miss them so much. I can still clearly remember my cousin's face. She used to follow me and hold my hand when I walked her to kindergarten."
His faint hope, however, quickly flickered out.
Including Kim, an estimated 100-thousand Korean-American families have ties to North Korea but this time only 1-hundred-70 families from the two Koreas were allowed to meet their long-lost relatives.
Many of the separated Korean-American families live in southern California, which has the largest population of Koreans outside of the divided peninsula.
For them, Choi Chang-chun, a member of the National Unification Advisory Council of Los Angeles, says there's not much hope for a reunion any time soon.
"There are hundreds of thousands of separated families in South Korea, and just for them to take a trip to the North to meet their families will take decades. I don't think people like me in the United States, will have a chance."
Although Korean-Americans are able to take a private trip to the North to meet their families using their U.S. citizenship, not many consider it a feasible option.
"There are organizations that help Korean-Americans visit North Korea to meet their families, but it costs a lot of money."
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People in the Korean-American community that have families in the North are hoping the reunions led by the two Koreas take place on a regular basis, and on a larger scale. Pyongyang, however, has a record of unilaterally calling off scheduled family reunions, whenever it has a bone to pick with South Korea and the U.S.
Let's hope the next two days of the reunions run without a hitch and that there are many more reunion events in the future.
That was our Hwang Ji-hye reporting from Los Angeles on the thousands of Korean-American families who are also desperate to see their long-lost relatives again.
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