North Korea hosts another round of family reunions

By Alex Jensen

SEOUL (AA) – Hundreds of South Koreans were allowed to cross the heavily guarded border with North Korea Friday, for the week's second reunion event at the North's picturesque Mount Kumgang resort.

Meetings from Monday to Wednesday saw people chosen by the South reunite with surviving family members whom officials from the North were able to identify.

Conversely, the second event scheduled to wrap up on Sunday has brought together a list of relatives picked by Pyongyang.

Some 326 South Koreans from 81 families traveled across the border Friday, according to local news agency Yonhap.

Some of the reunions saw siblings reunited as well as elderly parents and children after decades apart since the 1950-53 Korean War.

"I am your first son," 67-year-old Cho Jeong-gi was quoted by Yonhap as tearfully saying to the father he had never met before. "I had no idea I would be able to meet you."

However, after Sunday the relatives will be separated again until Seoul and Pyongyang are able to agree on terms that would allow more flexible inter-Korean travel for their respective citizens.

There have been around 20 rounds of reunions since the Koreas' first summit in 2000, but the last one before this year was in 2015.

This latest round was the product of South Korean President Moon Jae-in's agreement with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un when they met for the first time in April.

The South still has close to 57,000 of its own citizens waiting to be reunited with relatives, although many of them are now over 70 years old.

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