This was the final day of the second round of reunions in 2018. At
9:40 a.m., the southern families gathered in the banquet hall on the
second floor of the Mount Kumgang Hotel. A sense of sadness was
palpable in the faces of the family members waiting for the last
meeting. At 10:00 a.m., the northern families came up to the second
floor amid applause of the staff members.
At the final meeting, the family members did not let go of each
others’ hands and hugged each other as they knew this would be the
last time that they would ever likely see each other. Some could not
hold back the tears. They took pictures to retain the scene of being
together and exchanged contact numbers, though they each knew that
they would not be able to contact each other. Some sang a song to
ameliorate the sorrow of parting.
Pyeon Chan-ok (76) has Parkinson’s disease, and he wrote a
heart-felt letter for his nephews in the North. His body stiffened,
making it difficult to finish writing the letter, but took some
medicine to persevere and finish it and gave it to his older brother.
Cho Jeong-gi (67) comforted his father, who was shedding tears due
to the sadness of parting again, and said “Father, we can meet again.”
Kwon Hyuk-chan (84) comforted his northern brother, saying “Bro, we
are going to be separated in 15 minutes, but don’t be upset. When we
arrive in Seoul, the youngest and I also go home, respectively. It is
okay, okay,” while controlling the grief.
At 1 p.m., it was announced that the meeting had come to an end, and
then the separated family members burst into tears and hugged each
other one last time. The northern family members hardly left the
place, looked back and waved to their southern family members who kept
calling them from the second floor.
After boarding the bus, the northern family members looked
endearingly at their southern relatives through the windows. They
grabbed each other’s hands to feel each others’ warmth for yet another
moment and bid farewell – “I love you. I am happy to see you even
now,” “Let’s meet again when the two Koreas are unified,” and “Stay healthy.”
The separated family members from the South waved their hands as the
bus slowly pulled away until it was gone. Without uttering a word,
they wiped away