North Korea proposes family reunions

Published On January 24, 2014 | By | News, Politics

Two Koreas MapBy Julienne Bay

North-and-South Korea family reunions are highly emotional opportunities to join family members that were divided during the 1950-1953 Korean War.

“Young people may not care too much, but reunions are a big deal from those from North,” said Kye Soon Yi, 79, who was a teenager during the Korean War.

North Korea proposed a reunion event on Friday, according to the Ministry of Unification Korea. North Korea’s Red Cross sent a message to the South on Friday, requesting a family reunion just in time for the Lunar New Year.

This is a surprising turn-around, since North Korea rejected South Korea’s proposal for a family reunion on Jan 6.

Just last September, North Korea abruptly cancelled a family reunion, accusing South Korea of aggressive confrontation against their regime. Specific date, location and other details have not been yet set for the upcoming reunion. The last family reunion was held in 2000.

Those that were separated during the war are now over 70 years of age, and most have no idea on whereabouts of their family members in North Korea, since North Korea’s citizens cannot communicate to the outside world.

Yi said the reunions are often the last chance for family members to meet, since those that survived the civil war are now senior citizens.

“My family was all separated,” said Yi, who currently resides in Toronto.

“I always think of my hometown…it’s right north of Demilitarized Zone.”

Such stories are all-too-common for Korean senior citizens.

There have been 18 face-to-face reunions between 2000 and 2010.

Here is a timeline looking at the relationship between North and South Korea.

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