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Koreans Continue Emotional Reunions

  • VOA News

South Korean Lee Chun Hwa, right, gets a kiss from her North Korean sister Lee Chun Son before returning home after a separated family reunion meeting at the Diamond Mountain resort in North Korea, Feb. 22, 2014.
Elderly South Koreans said tearful goodbyes to their relatives in North Korea Saturday after their brief reunions, the first time they have seen each other since they were separated by the Korean War in the early 1950s.

The emotional reunions began Thursday at the North's scenic Mount Kumgang resort. The 82 South Koreans and 180 North Koreans spent time getting reacquainted, exchanging gifts and sharing photos of family members that neither side even knew existed.

A second group of families will be reunited at the resort Sunday.

It is the first time in more than three years the reunions have been held. Previous events have been canceled at the last minute because of lingering political tensions.

The current round also was nearly called off because of North Korea's frustration with joint South Korean-U.S. military drills that are set to begin Monday.

Pyongyang views the drills as provocative and called for them to be canceled, moved or delayed. But its decision to go ahead with the reunions has many cautiously optimistic about improved inter-Korean ties.

Others said it was not likely the reunions would bring on any drastic change, pointing out that just one month after the last reunions in 2010, the North attacked a South Korean island, killing four people.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and AP.