News / Asia

Inter-Korean Family Reunions Take Emotional Toll

Jang Choon, 82, who was one of the participants in the latest inter-Korean reunion for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War poses at his house in Namyangju, South Korea, March 9, 2014.
Jang Choon, 82, who was one of the participants in the latest inter-Korean reunion for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War poses at his house in Namyangju, South Korea, March 9, 2014.
A number of South Koreans who participated in the latest round of inter-Korean family reunion ceremonies say they are suffering from emotional aftereffects, including depression.

“The first 20 days or so after the reunion were the hardest,” 81-year-old Hoon Jang told the VOA Korean Service. “I have been taking mood stabilizers and that helped a lot.”

Jang was able to reconnect with his brother and sister at the event.

The 19th inter-Korean family reunion was coordinated by the Red Cross and wrapped up February 25.

Hundreds of Koreans from both sides of the border met long-lost relatives for the first time in six decades at North Korea’s scenic Mount Kumgang resort.

Psychological damage

Almost half of the 439 South Korean participants said they are having difficulty leading their daily lives.

The biggest hurdle cited is the thought of not being able to see their loved ones again. Other reasons include a sense of powerlessness stemming from the fact that they cannot do anything to help their relatives in the North.

Many were also disappointed by the ideological differences. For Boon-il Kim, meeting her sister for the first time since she was 10 years old was a heart-wrenching experience.

“I asked her how she is doing and she answered she is very well thanks to the generous ration [distributed] by the General [Kim Jung Un],” said Kim with a heavy sigh. The 78-year-old has been receiving treatment for high blood pressure since the reunion.

These and other findings were part of a poll conducted by the South Korean Red Cross of every South Korean who met relatives in the North. According to the survey results, three out of 10 respondents reported psychological trauma.

A majority described their concerns about the welfare of separated family members as seriously daunting. Some said they are suffering from insomnia and find it difficult to concentrate at work.

Others reported feeling physically exhausted following the three-day reunion. The oldest South Korean participant at the event was 94 years old.

Despite the heartbreak, however, most said that having the reunions is definitely better than not having them.

“My biggest wish is for other separated family members to get an opportunity to meet their loved ones like I have,” said Un-hyung Park, 92, who saw his daughter.  “I feel sorry that I got picked over other people and hope another reunion will be organized soon.”

This month, the South Korean Red Cross plans to provide a psychological support program to affected families, beginning with visits to some 50 people’s homes for counseling.

According to government data, more than 70,000 South Koreans have been on the family reunion waiting list since 1988 - all of them are expected to die within 20 years from old age.

Last month, South Korean President Park Geun-hye proposed regularizing face-to-face family reunions to the North. Pyongyang has yet to respond to the offer.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More