TITLE=KOREAS REUNION SECOND DAY WRAP (L)
INTRO: The reunion of 200 members of separated
Korean families continued for a second day
Wednesday. Participants met privately after
emotionally draining group reunions the day
before. As correspondent Amy Bickers reports from
Seoul, the South Korean government says it wants
to find ways for reunited family members to
maintain contact after the event ends on Friday.
TEXT: Korean families taking part in the reunion
spent more time getting reacquainted Wednesday.
They met in their hotel rooms where they
exchanged gifts and looked at family photos.
They told each other of births, deaths, marriages
and other family milestones that had taken place
during 50 years of silence, when the Cold War on
the Korean Peninsula made any contact impossible.
South Koreans gave their northern relatives gifts
of clothing, watches, basic medicines and other
necessities - hoping that these items would be
useful in their impoverished homeland. Some
South Koreans gave family members hard currency
as well. Family heirlooms, including jewelry,
were also exchanged.
The reunions, which are taking place in Seoul and
Pyongyang, are tightly controlled in both
countries. South Korean families with a North
Korean relative visiting them are only permitted
to have five family members present at reunion
events. The North Koreans are staying at a
separate hotel from their South Korean family
members. They are not allowed to visit their
parents' tombs, a solemn obligation here.
The families will meet only a few more times
before the North Koreans leave Friday.
Arrangements are similar in Pyongyang.
The last reunion between long-separated Korean
families took place in 1985. Since then, those
relatives have been unable to contact each other.
The South Korean government says it hopes that it
can find ways for family members to stay in touch
after this reunion ends.
A presidential spokesman said Wednesday that the
government is hoping to establish special family
meeting points and some kind of a postal system
between the two Koreas, which remain technically
at war and have no communication links for
private citizens. He also said the government
would like to set up a facility for South Koreans
to send money to their relatives in the North.
The reunions are the most tangible result of the
first ever inter-Korean summit two months ago,
when North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and South
Korean President Kim Dae-jung signed a joint
declaration pledging to work toward peaceful
16-Aug-2000 08:17 AM EDT (16-Aug-2000 1217 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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