Second round of reunions of separated families in 2018 Day 2: Growing
affection – for loved ones
On August 25, the second day of the second round of reunions in
2018, private meetings were allowed so that the separated family
members could have some quality time with their own family members.
This was followed by the second group meeting.
Thick rain clouds brought on by a typhoon the previous day gave way
to bright blue skies and sunshine as if the weather was cheering for
the reunions of separated family members. It gave everyone a clear
view of Mount Geumgang. Some had time for a little stroll in the
morning while waiting for the meeting with relatives.
Kang Jung-ok (100) came all the way from Jeju Island and looked more
comfortable than she had the previous day. The motion sickness she had
felt had gone away due to the delight of meeting her younger sister
after 70 years. She gathered her strength overnight. Her family
members accompanying her during their stroll re-freshed their memories
of the first meeting, saying “It is hard to believe that we were
actually in the same space.”
Kwon Hyuk-chan (84) hugged his brothers and shared brotherly
affection and said “I am glad that my older brother is living well in
the North,” with anticipation of the upcoming private meetings.
At 9:30 a.m., the separated family members came together at the
Mount Kumgang Hotel for the private meetings with their northern
relatives. There were gifts on one side of the lobby that the northern
families had prepared for their southern relatives. Each of the paper
bags with ribbon patterns included three bottles of liquor – the
famous Pyeongyang liquor, Daepyeong Grain Wine, and Paektusan
Blueberry Wine – a silk bedspread, and a cotton towel, and their
presence further animated the conversation.
The families from the South entered the hotel rooms first and waited
for their northern relatives. They looked out the window and wandered
along the hallway. Soon, the northern families headed to the rooms
bearing the gifts in both hands. Ji E-san (8), one of two children
participating in the reunions, came out to meet his grandmother Ji Ok
Soon (76) in the hallway, and finally the grandmother appeared, hugged
E-san, and walked in the room while holding him.
Lunch was delivered to each of the families at 11:40 a.m. and was a
time to make yet more new memories. The southern families greeted the
North Korean staff members wearing traditional hanbok dress who
delivered lunch, saying “Welcome. Thank you.” Laughter flowed.
The three hours of private meetings came to an end at 1 p.m. Kwon
Hyuk-chan (84) said that “It was so good to talk with my older
brother.” When asked if he was excited for the next meeting at 3 p.m.,
he smiled, replying “Of course, I am excited.”
Cho Jeong-gi (67) met his father at this reunion. He exchanged
affectionate glances with his father when walking out of the hotel
after the private meeting. About her sister, Kang Jung-ok (100) said
“It was so good to talk about things buried in my mind for 70 years”
and expressed anticipation for the next group meeting.
At 2:40 p.m., the separated family members gathered at a conference
room on the first floor for the second group meeting. The southern
families waited for their northern relatives with the thrill of
meeting loved ones again while staring intently at the door.
Yang Kye-ok (79) could hardly conceal the joy of meeting her elder
sister after 67 years. She said “The more I meet her, the more I want
to see her again and as soon as possible. There is not enough time.”
At 3:00 p.m., the northern families walked into the conference room
with beaming faces. The families from the South and the North met
again after only just two hours but they embraced each other as if
they were happy to see each other anytime. They took Polaroid pictures
to keep the precious moments and held the pictures tightly to keep
from losing them.
As time went by, Cho Jeong-gi (67) felt sad and said to his father
“I would like to continue to be with you. What if this is the last
meeting?” Jung Ae-ja (77), who met her older sister Jung Hwi Kyung
(79), picked up where they left off at the private meeting and said
“Time is too short. Am I greedy if I want more?”
At 4:45 p.m., it was announced that the second group meeting would
soon end.” The separated family members regretted that the time had
flown by so fast and waved to each other saying “See you tomorrow.”
They would have the farewell meeting the next day.