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Second round of reunions of separated families in 2018 Day 2: Growing affection – for loved ones


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.

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