Two Koreas start family reunions

The reunions, which give divided families their first chance to see one another in six decades, started mid-afternoon at the Mount Kumgang resort on the North's southeastern coast, near the border, Yonhap news agency said.

"How are you, you... I could only see you in dreams," said Kim Rae-Jung, 96, from the South, choked in tears as she touched the face of her 71-year-old daughter, Wu Jong-Hye, from the North.

"I've been living well here, mother," said the daughter with tears dripping from her chin.
She showed her mother pictures of her relatives and some 20 medals of honour that she and members of her family had received from the North Korean government.

The daughter was left behind in the North when other family members fled to the South in 1951 to avoid advancing Chinese troops during the Korean War.

Some 430 South Koreans crossed into the North today in a convoy of buses for the reunions.

The South Koreans from 97 families will spend three days with 97 relatives in North Korea from whom they were separated by the war.

Lee Moon-Yeong, in his 70s, said he had spent a sleepless night in anticipation of seeing one of his brothers after so many years apart with no chance of any communication.

He had previously feared the brother might have been killed in action after joining the North Korean army during the 1950-53 Korean War.

"Brothers were fighting against brothers. What a tragedy it was," he said.

Lee's second brother died in 1952 while fighting for the South.

North and South Korean troops yesterday briefly exchanged fire across the frontier, heightening tensions before next month's G20 summit of world leaders in Seoul. No casualties were reported.

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