Monday, November 08, 2010

North Koreans are people too

Sometimes when we (as in "the people") speak of North Korea, all we can recall is the crazy haired, attention grabbing, ugly little man who likes nothing more but to poke his fingers into the rib cage of the rest of the world.  But North Korea is a country like any others, comprised of people and families.  Sixty years ago when the Korean War began, families were separated. Mothers from daughters, sons from fathers, brothers from sisters were split by a demilitarized zone for an indefinite amount of time.  We forget about these people, these families who have the same needs and concerns as we do when we remember this excessively long stale-mate. We forget that those families are kept from seeing each other by force.   I recently read an article on the blog ASK A KOREAN about a reuniting of families from the North and South.  The oldest being a 96 year old woman afraid she would never see her daughter again.

Here are a few excerpts from his blog post  and another article .  You can also choose to read his entire article here.  Another article about the meeting can be found here.  It  is less emotional.

As of 2010, there were 120,000 registered South Koreans with separated families. 40,000 of them already passed away, and every year 3,000 more are passing away. Meetings between the separated families, arranged by the Red Cross Societies of both North and South Korea, happened for the first time in 1985, more than 30 years after the conclusion of Korean War. Since 2000, there have been a relatively regular annual meeting.

More than 430 South Koreans crossed into North Korea today and met relatives for the first time since they were separated by the Korean War more than half a century ago.

The divided family members – mostly aged in their 80s – are meeting for three days in North Korea’s Diamond Mountain resort, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said.

Read more:

Mr. Lee Jong-Ryeol (90) of North Korea, who was a former soldier for the Republic of Korea military, and his son Mr. Lee Min-Gwan (61), shed the tears they had been holding back. The younger Lee buried his face on his wheelchair-bound father's lap, crying "Father, father, my father."

Even for the meeting place turned into a sea of tears, the time did not stop. When the PA announced "10 minutes remaining for the farewell meeting," the few scattered laughs ceased completely. Finishing up the hour-long meeting, the South Korean families were at a loss as the bus carrying the North Korean families were leaving the meeting place. The South Korean families that met Ms. Woo Jeong-Hye from North Korea lifted up the 96-year-old mother so that the mother and daughter may hold hands for the last time through the window of the bus. And so ended the cruel meeting that did not allow the separated families to "really eat and sleep next to each other, only meeting for a moment just to separate again," as Mr. Lee Myeong-Guk of North Korea put it.

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