Korean family reunions begin

For the first time in 64 years, Lee Du-young will reunite with his long-lost brother Feb. 20, reports BBC News.

Du-young is one of more than 100 South Koreans traveling to North Korea to embrace family members they haven’t seen in more than half a century.

These Koreans are among the hundreds of thousands who were forcibly separated at the end of the Korean War in 1953. Since then, they’ve been kept apart by the most heavily guarded border in the world.

North and South Koreans are not allowed to talk on the phone, exchange emails or send letters.

But for a couple of hours Feb. 20, a few hundred participants will catch up and share a meal with nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters. South Koreans are bringing gifts for their poorer North Korean family members such as winter coats, medicine and food, reports BBC News.

According to Al Jazeera, half of the Koreans are more than 80 years old and 26 are over 90. Many are in poor health and ride in wheel chairs.

Regardless, most cannot hide their joy.


More than 72,000 South Koreans are on the reunion waiting list, reports BBC News. Participants are selected randomly. In North Korea the process is more opaque –BBC News says many experts believe only families who are in political favour are chosen.

These reunions are supposed to occur every year, but haven’t actually taken place since 2010 due to tense North-South relations. The North Korean government and the International Red Cross run the reunions.

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