The first wave of the 20th round of reunions between family members who were separated by the war, held at Kumgang Mountain, has ended. Family members who met for the first time in 65 years sobbed hysterically after being separated once again following a brief reunion with their loved ones. Nam Cheol Sun, aged 82 and living in the North, clasped the hand of his younger sister Soon Wook, aged 80, and told her, “Let’s all live together as one family in a large house after reunification. How can we be so unfortunate?” The two were heartbroken by their separation.

Lee Choon Ran, aged 80 and living in the South, also couldn’t take her eyes off of her older sister, Lee Ran Hee, aged 84. “When I was 15, I was separated from my older sister and now we have met again but have to part without knowing when we will see each other again…” she said sadly. The oldest North Korean  person to attend the reunions was Lee Hong Chong, aged 88, who was reunited with his daughter Lee Cheong Sook, aged 68. She pressed her face to his knee and cried as though she would never stop, crying “Father, father” repeatedly.

Hong Choon’s younger brother Lee Hong Wook, aged 80, also clung to his hand and said only “Older brother, what can we do...” as they were forced to separate once again. Hong Choon’s son Lee In Kyung, who also is from the North and came together with his father to the reunions, wiped his eyes over and over with a small hand towel and said, “We’ll meet again. When our country is reunited, we’ll meet again.”

Lee Soon Gyu, 85, was separated from her husband while she was pregnant after only 7 months of marriage. Her husband Oh In Sae is 83 and lives in the North. At their first meeting in 65 years, he was speechless and could only stare at her with tears falling from his eyes. She comforted him, say, "Don't cry, don't cry.”

Oh Jeong Gyun, aged 65, embraced his father, who he was meeting for the first time in his life, having been in the womb when they were separated. “We’ll meet again, father,” he said as they parted. Soon Gyu replied, “Stay in good health, live a long life…” as she adjusted her husband’s necktie.

Park Ryong Soon, 82, from the North, was reunited with her little brother Park Young Hwan, aged 75. “When we were separated 65 years ago I never dreamed it would be this long. Because I had no idea it would be like this I didn’t even cry then. But now we have to separate again,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes.

Young Hwan picked up his sister and, hoisting her on his back, did a lap around the table. “When we were young, you always carried me, but now it’s my turn,” he said. Her other brother, Young Deok (81), begged, “Older sister, I’ll send my car to you in the North. But today let’s go back to Seoul together. Let’s spend a few days together and then go.” Ryong Soon’s son said, “We can meet when our countries reunite,” at which Young Deok burst into tears, saying, “I want to take my family back to my house, why can’t ?!?"

When the family members of the North got back into the bus, their Southern relatives rushed to the windows, wailing and grasping at the hands of their loved ones through the windows. As they held the hands of their long-separated families, they poured out their grief at being reunited for such a short time.

After returning to South Korea, Cheong Sook said, “My longing for my father has only grown. I don’t know how I will stand it. But even now it is like I am still by my father’s side,” as tears trickled down her cheeks.

Soon Gyu put on a bright face, saying “Seeing my husband who I had given up for dead was the most joyous feeling. His appearance has changed a lot, but the Han that was buried deep in my heart has been unbound. He told me to stay healthy and live a long, long life.”

The second wave of reunions is scheduled to take place from October 24-26. 255 people from the North and 90 people from the South will be reuniting with their loved ones. (Daily NK)