It’s been 68 years since the Korean War broke out separating thousands of families at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. On Monday, however, after decades of longing to reconnect with each other, several families were finally able to reunite.
In April of this year, during the inter-Korean Summit at the Inter-Korean Peace House and Unification Pavilion, North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, signed the Panmunjom Declaration which called for the end of war on the Korean Peninsula.
As a part of this declaration, the two leaders agreed to have inter-Korean Red Cross reunions for families that were separated by the border. According to CNN, the reunion on Monday was the first one to happen since 2015, and it allowed 89 families out of the 57,000 who applied to briefly reunite for the first time since they were separated.
Mother’s got to hold their children for the first time since they were infants, and brothers and sisters who were too young to remember each other got to meet for what felt like the first time.
The South Korean families who were selected for the Red Cross reunions were chosen at random through a lottery process, and according to BBC News, the oldest family member in attendance was 101 years old. For many of the people in attendance this was likely the last and only time that they will be together.
According to BBC News, 83 North Koreans and 89 South Koreans were able to take part in the reunion. Initially, a hundred people from each side of the border were selected to participate, but several withdrew from participation after learning that their loved ones were no longer alive.
Over the past 18 years the two countries have worked together to have 20 events like this, but as the years go by, time, sadly runs out for some of the families.
According to BBC News, most of the reunions at this point have not been between immediate family members, but instead they have been between close relatives like cousins.
At the reunion on Monday, BBC News reported, only seven of the participants were set to be reunited with immediate family members like parents or children.
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