South Korean Families Reunited With North Korean Relatives

The division of Korea into North Korea and South Korea was established in 1945 as a result of the Second World War. The United States and the Soviet Union decided to occupy the area by dividing it into two zones of influence along the 38th geographic parallel.
These “two Koreas” have different economies, diverging ideologies and opposite policies. The relations between the North (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and South (Republic of Korea) have never been easy, but recently they have developed towards a more conciliatory future.

North Korea is a Juche (self-reliant) authoritarian state where there is only one political party. The type of government is a dictatorship and the only president that the nation has every known is North Korean Kim Il-Sung. Currently the head of the state North Korea is Kim Jong-Il, son of Kim Il-Sung.
Relations between North and South Korea have been very tense in the past and the South also promoted a strong propaganda against North Korea. The first steps towards some sort of “reconciliation” were taken towards the end of the 90s. At that time, in 1998, the former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung introduced the so-called ‘Sunshine Policy’. Later, more dialogue followed with the Joint Declaration of the North and the South on the 15th June 2000.
On the 9th of October 2006, the Sunshine Policy fell into fragile ground due to the North Korean missile tests. What followed was the decision of South Korea to suspended its humanitarian aid to its neighbor.
Separated for sixty years, eighty-two South Koreans, accompanied by their families, met with their relatives of the North. These families had been torn apart by the bloody conflict of 1950-1953. The first of the five-day meetings was held at a resort on Mount Kumgang on the 20th of February.
The families approved to take part in these reunions are randomly selected by a computer system. Most of the participants has now passed the age of eighty.
The national TV has captured the moments of the ceremony, following the 82 South Koreans from their arrival at the station in North Korea, where 180 families were waiting for them.
A 93-years-old South Korean, separated from his pregnant wife at the time of the conflict, met his child (who is now 64-years-old) for the first time.
The meeting had been organized in 2010 but only actually took place now, thanks to the dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang. This reunion will not be the last: 360 South Koreans are preparing to travel to the Diamond Mountain in North Korea to meet 88 North Koreans next year.
Erika Sciarra.


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