Elderly South Koreans headed back home Sunday after brief, emotional meetings with their long-lost kin residing in North Korea in the second round of the latest family reunions.
More than 300 South Koreans, from 81 families, left the North's Mount Kumgang resort by bus at about 1:20 p.m., wrapping up their three-day visit for temporary reunions with their family members separated for decades after the 1950-53 Korean War.
The separated families had three hours of farewell reunions and lunch on the last day, but tears were everywhere with the approach of the time to say goodbye.
"I'm thankful for coming to meet you," Yoon Suk-jae, 65, told her uncle from the North during the farewell reunion. She cried as she said, "After today's meeting and farewell, there's no promise that we can meet again."
When Choe Song-sun, an 85-year-old North Korean, told her younger brother, Choi Seong-taek, 82, from the South that he should be well and healthy, the brother burst into tears that he had struggled to contain.
Many were spotted exchanging home addresses and papers with a family tree, trying to reassure themselves that they can meet again someday. Some others took pictures together or exchanged handwritten letters to remember each other.
Throughout the reunions, the families meet up a total of 12 times. Last week, the first group of 89 elderly South Koreans traveled to the scenic resort for reunions.
The latest reunion event comes amid a thaw in inter-Korean relations. It is a follow-up on an agreement their leaders reached in an April summit to address humanitarian challenges arising from decades of division caused by the Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
Hillary Kang firstname.lastname@example.org
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