| A five-day Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holiday has started and 35 million people are heading for hometown. It is time to escape from the tough daily life and feel sense of love by meeting families and relatives and visiting ancestor`s graves. The full moon on Chuseok day gently reflects the lives of people wherever they are at. The full moon that floats on the south of the Military Demarcation Line is the same moon that people from North Korea see.
Chuseok marks an en-mass migration, and yet many people cannot meet their family. Among 128,842 South Korean people who registered at Korean Red Cross to ask for search of their separated family in the North, 55,960 died and 72,882 are waiting desperately to meet brothers, sisters, children and relatives living in North Korea. It is 220 kilometers from Seoul to Pyongyang, a two and a half hour distance by car. However, since separate governments were established in 1948, free meeting between separated families has been impossible, and the military demarcation line is still very high and solid even as 65 years have passed.
South and North Korea on Monday have exchanged final list of people for reunion. From September 25 for three days, 96 people from the South will meet their family in the North, and 100 North Korean people will meet their South Korean family from September 28 to 31. Since the reunion at Chuseok 2010, family meeting has been suspended for three years as South-North relations soured. Next month, 40 families each from South and North will meet each other through video call, and a face-to-face meeting is due in November. It is encouraging that there is sign for potential regular family reunion meeting to take place while previous administrations have failed to do so.
It is now time for the two Koreas to change fundamentally the previous stopgap events for family reunion. They should constantly check if the separated family is dead or alive and their addresses. Sending letters should also be permitted. It would be really worthwhile to allow those who already met each other meet at a permanent place.
It is inhumane to allow families who had been separated for more than 50 years meet at an open place for just several hours. Forcing farewell without any promise for reunion means more suffering due to long break up. The problem is that North Korea sees separated family reunion as destabilizing the regime. North Korea needs to break away from using family reunion to get support for rice and fertilizer and make a broad-minded determination on a humanitarian perspective.