“How many children do you have? Do you have a son?”, Lee Keum-seom, a 92-year-old mother asked her 72-year-old son Ri Sang-chol whom she was meeting after 68 years. The boy was just four when he got separated from his mother during the Korean War in 1950 in the rush to flee south. He had stayed behind with his father in North Korea. The son showed photos of his late father as both the mother and son cried their hearts out after seeing each other.
However, the reunification was brief. North Korea only allowed them and 89 other families to see each other for 11 hours over a three-day period and under intense supervision. Nearly 57,000 people had applied to take part in the reunification trip, however, only a few were allowed. The Unification Ministry estimates there are currently about 600,000 to 700,000 South Koreans with immediate or extended relatives in North Korea.
Most of the people who reunited with their families were old, having wished to see each other one last time.
This was the first re-unification trip in 3 years as tensions between both the countries had escalated over North Korea’s nuclear programme, however, both countries are now on good terms because of which the reunions were possible.