The reunion of family members for the first time in 68 years, led to an emotional reunion for many of those separated by the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that was established during the Korean War. However, there was a certain restriction to the amount of people reunited, leaving thousands out in the cold wanting to see their families and not knowing whether their relatives are alive or dead. Those fortunate 330 candidates were able to bond with their families for a span of three days, totaling 11 hours. The majority of the participants averaged 80 years old and were eager to reunite with the family members they lost contact with. However, the departure was bittersweet; families held one another closely as they realized they will never see each other again.
In order to organize such an event, both North and South Korea signed the Panmunjom Declaration back in April. The Red Cross organization was the one who informed the individuals that they were selected, providing notifications whether their relatives were alive or deceased. The start of the reunification program began on September 21,1985, but the actual reunions started on June of 2000. The event stirred up many emotions within the participants, resulting in long term effects for many. More than 25% of the participants developed depression and anxiety after the event.
Unfortunately, separated families is not the only issue Korea faces. What separates them is towering walls blocking a path to their families; many live-in fear of crossing due to them being labeled as undocumented. This fear leads to many immigrants hiding in the dark with the reoccurring thought of not being able to reconnect with their deported family members. Families are being torn apart, but despite it all, hope continues and perseveres.