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People's Daily Online

2nd group of S.Koreans head for DPRK for family reunion

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 16:34, October 24, 2015

SEOUL, Oct. 24 -- The second batch of South Koreans on Saturday headed for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to meet their long-lost DPRK relatives at the reunion event for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

A total of 254 elderly South Koreans from 90 families left at about 8:45 a.m. local time (2345 GMT Friday) for DPRK's Mount Kumgang resort from Sokcho city in South Korea's northeastern coast where the participants in the reunion event spent last night for preparations.

A convoy of buses carrying the participants, mostly in their 80s and 90s, crossed the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas into the North, scheduled to have the first face-to-face at about 3:30 p.m. in the mountain resort after more than six decades of separation.

Coming from the DPRK to take part in the highly charged event, which was agreed in late August after high-level military talks to defuse tensions that had pushed the Korean peninsula to the brink of armed conflict, will be 188 people.

Only 12 hours of face time will be given to the separated families through six two-hour sessions, including lunch and dinner gatherings in public and communal meetings. Only one private face-to-face will be allowed during the three-day event.

The face time is extremely short for the divided families due to their advanced age and frailty. With some 65,000 South Koreans being on the waiting list for the family reunion, the vast majority of them are highly likely to have no chance to meet their relatives in the North or even know whether they are still alive.

Scores of South Korean participants were on wheelchairs due to their poor health, and some rode ambulances to the North as they have difficulties making the journey by bus.

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