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New round of reunions take place for war-separated families

Updated: 2014-02-24 13:46:33 KST
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The two Koreas are holding their second round of reunions for families separated by the Korean War in North Korea's Mt. Kumgang resort on this Monday.
Today is the second day of the event for nearly 5-hundred divided family members from both sides.
For more details, let's go live to our correspondent Hwang Sung-hee at the Inter-Korean Dialogue Headquarters.
Sung-hee, you were at Mt. Kumgang for the previous round of reunions last week.
What is the atmosphere like on the second day?

Good afternoon, Yeon-ji.
On the second day of the event, the family members have three chances to reunite -- the individual meetings, the group luncheon and the group meeting.
The individual meetings, which are held in the morning, take place behind closed doors at the hotel rooms of the family members.
This is when the divided families really get a chance to catch up and to exchange gifts.
I had a chance to take a peek at what the South Korean families prepared for the previous round.
It's mostly daily necessities like clothes, underwear, soap and snack, since they are advised by the unification ministry not to bring items that are too pricey.
I noticed that up until the individual meetings, the atmosphere is a little down since decades of separation do make the families awkward around each other at first.
But after the individual meetings, the mood picks up a little and the families get a bit chattier during the group luncheon.
It starts to get emotional and teary during the final few minutes of the group meeting on the second day of the reunion, which takes place from 4 p.m. for two hours.
This is when the families begin to worry about the next day, which is the last day of the event and the day that they have to say good bye once again.
Although the event takes place for three days, the families only have 11 hours together, which is way too short to make up for more than six decades of separation and I saw that many family members were crying and saying farewell to each other on the second day.
The new round of the reunions are much larger in scale than the first round, with nearly 400 South Korean family members crossing the border on Sunday to meet 88 North Korean family members that applied for the event.
This time around, only one family is a reunion between a parent and a child, with most being meetings between siblings or even nephews and half-brothers or sisters.
More than half of the 70-thousand registered South Korean divided family members are over the age of 80, which is a reminder that time is running out and that the reunions should really be held on a regular basis.

Thank you, Sung-hee.
That was our Hwang Sung-hee reporting live the details on the new round of inter-Korean family reunions.


Reporter : ssung86@arirang.co.kr

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