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South Korean reunites with North Korean husband after 65 years apart

The last time they saw each other was in September 1950 when she was 19 years old and six months pregnant.

South Korean Lee Soon Kyu, 85, finally reunited with her North Korean husband, Oh In Se, 83, on Tuesday (Oct 20).

They were separated during the Korean War almost seven decades ago.

South Korean Lee Sun Gyu (left), 85, smiles with her North Korean husband Oh In Se (right), 83, during the separated family reunion meeting. PHOTO: AFP

Hundreds of South Koreans, most of whom are elderly, some in wheelchairs accompanied by their children and relatives, crossed the demilitarised zone Tuesday morning to be reunited with their loved ones, reported Yonhap News.

According to the Korea Observer, since the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, the two Koreas have held 19 rounds of face-to-face family reunion events depending on the state relations of the countries.

For this round of the reunion, only 100 South Koreans were chosen, through a computerised lottery system, out of 65,000 who were eligible for reunions with their relatives in the North.

Most of the family members of these separated families are in their 80s or older.

Of the hundred picked, some had since died or became too ill to travel.

The reunion, held at a North Korean resort on Mount Kumgang, consists of six two-hour meetings from Tuesday to Thursday, allowing the families to spend about 12 hours together.

North and South Korean family members meet during the separated family reunions at Mount Kumgang resort, North Korea, October 20, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Family members approached each other warily yesterday, unsure of what to say after 65 years apart, according to the South China Morning Post.

South Korean Lee Sun Gyu (left), 85, with daughter-in-law Lee Ok Ran (second from left) meet with her North Korean husband Oh In Se (second from right), 83, and his son Oh Jang Gyun (right). PHOTO: AFP

"Thank you for being alive," Madam Lee told her husband.

She had never remarried, hopeful that her husband would one day return.

Oh, their son, said he had been looking forward to being able to say "Father" for the first time in his life, and did exactly that when he saw the elder Oh. 

Crying, he told his father: ""I’ve always tried to live as a proud son of yours."

The oldest South Korean at the event, Mr Koo Sang Yun, 98, brought two pairs of red traditional shoes for his two daughters, Sung Ja, 71, and Sun Ok, 68.

The girls were seven and four when the separation happened. 

Why shoes?

He had promised his daughters new shoes before they were separated - and wanted to make good on the promise. 

Sources: The Korea Observer, South China Morning Post, Yonhap News, BBC

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