The decision to hold a reunion of Korean families was taken at the historic summit held between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. More than 57,000 families in South Korea had applied to take advantage of the opportunity but only 89 of them were granted permission. The majority of the lucky ones were in their 80s and their children and other relatives accompanied them on the bus trip to North Korea.

CNN reports that the South Koreans assembled at a resort in Sokecho on Sunday.

It was south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which is the line of separation of the two Koreas. They had to undergo medical checks and were briefed on various aspects related to the North to avoid embarrassment. Red Cross workers were on hand to extend assistance as some of the elders arrived in wheelchairs for the reunion.

Reunion will lead to improved relations

Ever since taking over office, South Korean President Moon Jae-in had talked about establishing closer ties with the North and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, responded by extending an olive branch when he reactivated the hotline.

Later, a unified Korean team participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. At the summit in Panmunjom both the leaders agreed to hold a reunion of separated families.

In a statement, Monday, the president of South Korea urged both Koreas to work towards more reunions in future. He shared their feelings because he himself was a victim of the separation.

He said that “the Koreas must more boldly make an effort towards solving the divided families issue." The Red Cross has been playing an important role for decades since the Korean War and has witnessed many reunions.

Thousands of applicants have already died before their hopes of meeting their lost families could materialize.

Koreans feel the pain of separation

At the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, millions of survivors were forcibly separated from their near and dear ones after the Korean peninsula was permanently divided by a so-called demilitarized zone (DMZ). According to The Telegraph UK, the first-ever inter-Korean summit was held in 2000 and until now there have been very few such family reunions.

More than 3,000 applicants for these events already died in the first half of this year.

This tearful reunion was the first in three years. Many of the elders were unable to recognize each other, and one of them even carried with him a whole range of essential items for his relatives. Right now the Korean peninsula is relatively quiet following the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore. Kim Jong-un appears to have realized the futility of pursuing his nuclear ambitions. The bottom line is peace in the region which will allow families of the North and the South to move freely across the border.

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