tv Asia Insight PBS January 30, 2016 12:00am-12:31am PST
way from south korea to north korea. a reunion is taking place in a mountain tourist resort, bringing together separated families from north and south. a husband and wife were reunited for the first time in 65 years. 70 years have passed since the korean peninsula split into north and south. this 98-year-old man has come to see his son, now 70, who lives in north korea.
millions of people separated for decades. we follow one man as he reunites with the family he left behind. these are the headquarters of the korean red cross. in cooperation with its counterparts in north korea, the korean red cross has taken a leading role in humanitarian exchange. one of their projects is bringing together family members separated by the division of the korean peninsula.
october 5th. a binder of documents arrives from north korea. it contains information about separated family members compiled by the red cross of north korea at the request of south korean families. inquiries were made to north korea regarding 250 families. many of the family members were either already deceased or their status could not be confirmed. even so, members of 120 families were confirmed to be still alive. the korean red cross contacted those families to gauge their intere intent to meet with their families and make sure they were healthy enough to make the trip. in the end 90 families from south korea say they will cross the border to meet their
relatives. the north/south division dates back to the end of world war ii. in august 1945, japan's 36-year rule of the korean peninsula came to a close with japan's defeat. quickly thereafter, united states forces occupied the territory south of the 38th parallel. soviet forces occupied the territory to the north. in 1948, the territory south of the 38th parallel became the republic of korea and was followed by the founding of the democratic people's republic of korea to the north. the two countries became fierce adversaries. the korean war erupted two years later. in the ensuing chaos, as many as
10 million people are believed to have been split apart. in 2000, a north/south summit in pyongyang opened the door to reconciliation. red cross officials began arranging family reunions in earnest. there have been 19 interkorean family reunion meetings and nearly 4,000 families have been reunited. jinan, roughly 250 kilometers south of seoul. the oldest person selected for this reunion group lives here.
lee suk-ju is 98 years old. as the korean war raged on he fled north korea for the south and became separated from his family. suk-ju applied more than ten years ago to the korean rory mcilroy for a reunion and has been waiting ever since. suk-ju was born in the northwestern region of the korean peninsula in 1917. he was wed at 24 and supported his mother, wife and three children by working as a carpenter. the korean war broke out when suk-ju was 32. he was drafted into the north
korean army and served in various locations. early in the conflict the north korean army controlled nearly the entire korean peninsula. but after u.n. forces fought back the war became a quagmire. four months into the war suk-ju decided to desert the north korean family and flee to south korea. before fleeing to south korea he visited his family who had sought refuge from the war by hiding in the mountains.
suk-ju's second wife, yang bok-re, she could tell suk-ju continued to blame himself. this document from north korea confirmed the fate of suk-ju's family. his wife died in 1994. his eldest daughter and eldest son were still alive. the status of his second daughter could not be confirmed. he was informed that because his eldest daughter was in poor health, his eldest son dong wook
the interkorean family reunion meetings are a collaboration between the korean red cross and the red cross in the north. today more than 60,000 separated families in south korea hope to be reunited. however, because of an agreement between the north and south, only about 200 families at a time can participate in the interkorean family reunion meetings. a separated family member unwilling to give up hope of a reunion visits the korean red cross.
kyong-suk and her husband purchased cold weatherwear, shoes, underwear, supplements, watches and other items up to the weight limit. october 24th. the separated families gathered in a town near the military demarcation line. 90 families, 254 people. they head for north korea aboard buses arranged by the korean red cross.
the reunions continued for two nights and three days. the times and places are prearranged. families from the north and south stay in separate accommodations. suk-ju reunited with his son for the first time in 65 years. his son, dong wook, just 5 when they separated, is now 70. dong wook says he is a retired mining company executive. dong wook's eldest son yong jin was also there.
met for two hours, their only time alone. dong wook came to see suk-ju in his room. suk-ju presented his son with his finest suit. dong wook reciprocated with a portrait of his family. this is suk-ju's wife donh he. dong he never remarried and raised her three children by herself. she joined the workers' party and worked at an agency that managed water resources. this photo was taken on her 70th birthday. the party had presented her with an award for her service. she died shortly thereafter.
suk-ju clutched dong he's photos and apologized profusely. october 26th. the final day of the interkorean family reunion. the entire group met together with their families for two hours. in all, the separated families met with their loved ones for just 12 hours over three days. it was time to say good-bye.
suk-ju was not aboard the buses as they headed back to south korea. he was taken back in a red cross ambulance after complaining of sudden chest pains. dong wook can only look on silently as his father is driven away. it is now three days since the family reunion. we visited suk-ju at his home. he has full can we recovered and seems to be doing fine.
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