Divided families meet in North Korea


Nearly 100 families divided for decades between South and North Korea met Tuesday in a highly emotional reunion.

Some 390 people from 96 families separated after the 1950-53 Korean war went to the North Korean resort at Mount Kumgang, on the east of the peninsula, for three days of reunions, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The meetings, the first since early last year, were part of an agreement struck in August, after tensions flared over an explosion in the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries.

Reunited relatives hugged and cried, or sat in silence overwhelmed, Yonhap reported.

Relatives from South Korea gave presents including clothing to their kin from the North.

The South Korean relatives, many in their eighties, were bussed across the border earlier Tuesday.

The meetings between the families will be split into six two-hour sessions, with some arranged in groups and others as individual families.

A second round of reunions is due to take place from October 24 to 26 with 255 South Korean family participants and 188 North Koreans.

The reunions were called into doubt earlier this month as tensions flared between the two neighbours.

Pyongyang threatened to cancel the event after South Korean President Park Geun Hye called North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme a serious threat to peace.

The August spat broke out after two South Korean soldiers were badly injured by an explosion in the Demilitarized Zone between the countries, and which Seoul blamed on the North’s military.

Most surviving members of divided families are more than 80 years old. Around half of the 129,700 people who first applied to be on the list have already died, Yonhap said.

Since 2000, the two Koreas have held 20 rounds of family reunion events, Yonhap said.