AKIPRESS.COM - Some 180 families torn apart by the 1950-53 Korean War will be temporarily reunited in North Korea starting Monday after the two Koreas renewed exchanges this year following a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, Reuters reports.
The reunions, the first in three years, will take place in the North’s tourist resort on Mount Kumgang, as agreed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in during their first summit in April.
The separated families are victims of a decades-long standoff between the neighbors, which has escalated over the past several years as Pyongyang rapidly advanced its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
More than 57,000 South Korean survivors have registered for a brief family reunion, which lasts only 11 hours and often ends in painful farewells.
“I’m over 90 so I don’t know when I am going to die. I am very glad that I have been selected this time, I’m walking on air now,” 91-year-old Moon Hyun-sook told Reuters on Sunday, a day before meeting her younger sisters in North Korea.
For years, Seoul has been calling for regular meetings between separated families including using video conferences, but the reunion programs often fell victim to fragile relations with Pyongyang.
During his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in June, Kim pledged to abandon his country’s nuclear programs if Washington provided security guarantees, but the two sides have since struggled to agree on how to reach that goal.
South Korean family members arrived at the coastal border city of Sokcho on Sunday to be briefed by officials on the reunion and for a brief health check-up, before crossing the border on Monday.
Ninety-three families from both sides of the border were initially scheduled for a three-day gathering from Monday, but four South Korean members canceled their trip to the North at the last minute due to health conditions, the Red Cross said.