Estranged relatives from North and South Korea prepare to meet after 60 years

Estranged relatives from North and South Korea prepare to meet after 60 years

Estranged relatives from North and South Korea prepare to meet after 60 years

Written by Bella Dalima

20 Feb, 2014 | 7:12 pm

About 170 estranged relatives from North and South Korea are preparing to meet each other on Thursday for the first time in more than six decades.

The chosen individuals – about half from each side – will bring their families to a North Korean tourist site, where they’ll spend a few days together. It is the first time in three years that cross-border family reunions have been held.

Lee was 12 years old the last time he could buy presents for his brother. Since they were separated, 64 birthdays have come and gone. Now the gifts he is taking to meet him are those for an old man battling North Korea’s harsh winter cold.

Lee’s brother was just a teenager when he was taken by the North Korean army during the Korean War. He remembers him as being softly-spoken and very kind. But the family has been apart so long that his older brother got  Lee’s first name wrong on the application form.

UN sanctions also ban South Koreans from bringing in luxury items like expensive watches or electronic goods for their relatives. Mr Lee says he just wants to know what happened to his brother, and to thank him for being alive.

But for everyone like him, there are thousands still waiting in South Korea with dwindling hope.

 

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