44 photos of emotional Korean family reunions will melt your heart

korean family reunion 2018 13AP

  • After more than 60 years apart, hundreds of South and North Korean families separated at the end of the Korean War in 1950 were reunited in August.
  • During the reunions, relatives embraced, cried, laughed, and discussed the lives they had missed out on together.
  • Here's an inside look at the heartwarming reunions.

Almost 180 families from North and South Korea hugged, laughed, and cried as they came together for the first time in 65 years.

After the separation of the two Koreas, thousands of parents, children, siblings, and other relatives became almost completely isolated from each other.

Through a series of family reunions organized by the Red Cross, select family members sat down together with their long-lost relatives for 11 hours over the course of three days in August.

Take a look at the photos of their reunions:

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After Korea was divided into two countries, families that lived in opposite regions from each other were separated — mothers from their children, brothers from sisters.

After Korea was divided into two countries, families that lived in opposite regions from each other were separated — mothers from their children, brothers from sisters.

Source: History Channel

To this day, many families do not know what happened to their relatives on the other side of the border.

To this day, many families do not know what happened to their relatives on the other side of the border.

Source: History Channel

But in 1985, the first Korean family reunion was held, and almost 150 Koreans got to see their separated family members for the first time in over 30 years.

But in 1985, the first Korean family reunion was held, and almost 150 Koreans got to see their separated family members for the first time in over 30 years.

Source: History Channel

It would take 15 more years for another reunion to be held.

It would take 15 more years for another reunion to be held.

Years went by, with many Koreans passing away and their hopes of seeing their separated loved ones dashed.

Years went by, with many Koreans passing away and their hopes of seeing their separated loved ones dashed.

Source: History Channel

But in 2000, both Koreas agreed to make the reunions a more regular annual event.

But in 2000, both Koreas agreed to make the reunions a more regular annual event.

Source: History Channel

Seventeen reunions have been held since then.

Seventeen reunions have been held since then.

Source: History Channel

And an estimated 21,000 Koreans have been reunited with their family members during those meetings.

And an estimated 21,000 Koreans have been reunited with their family members during those meetings.

Source: History Channel

For South Koreans, to be chosen to take part in a reunion, you must enter a lottery, which is based based partly on age and how close the family ties are.

For South Koreans, to be chosen to take part in a reunion, you must enter a lottery, which is based based partly on age and how close the family ties are.

Source: History Channel, CNN

For North Koreans, however, less is known about how the government chooses which citizens are awarded reunions.

For North Koreans, however, less is known about how the government chooses which citizens are awarded reunions.

Source: History Channel

Almost 200 Korean families attended the most recent reunions in August, embracing and visiting with loved ones that they haven't seen in more than 60 years.

Almost 200 Korean families attended the most recent reunions in August, embracing and visiting with loved ones that they haven't seen in more than 60 years.

Source: Reuters

That's a fraction of the 57,000 South Koreans who registered for this round of reunions but were not chosen to participate.

That's a fraction of the 57,000 South Koreans who registered for this round of reunions but were not chosen to participate.

Source: CNN

Not to mention the thousands of others who have died before being considered as reunion candidates.

Not to mention the thousands of others who have died before being considered as reunion candidates.

The last time families separated by the two Koreas reunited was in 2015.

The last time families separated by the two Koreas reunited was in 2015.

Source: CNN

There were two rounds of reunions this year ...

There were two rounds of reunions this year ...

Source: Reuters

... and each reunion lasted a mere 11 hours over the course of three days.

... and each reunion lasted a mere 11 hours over the course of three days.

Source: Reuters

Before meeting, South Koreans were debriefed on rules set by North Korea and were told to avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as offensive or insensitive to the North.

Before meeting, South Koreans were debriefed on rules set by North Korea and were told to avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as offensive or insensitive to the North.

Source: CNN

Some entered the reunions in wheelchairs.

Some entered the reunions in wheelchairs.

During the reunions, families congregated in a large conference room at the Diamond Mountain Resort in North Korea...

During the reunions, families congregated in a large conference room at the Diamond Mountain Resort in North Korea...

Source: Associated Press

...dined together...

...dined together...

Source: Time

... and had private meetings in hotel rooms.

... and had private meetings in hotel rooms.

Source: Time

Lee Geum-seom, 92, of South Korea, got to hug her son Ri Sang-chol, a 71-year-old North Korean, for the first time in more than 60 years.

Lee Geum-seom, 92, of South Korea, got to hug her son Ri Sang-chol, a 71-year-old North Korean, for the first time in more than 60 years.

During their reunion, Lee held her son's hand...

During their reunion, Lee held her son's hand...

Source: New York Times

... reminisced with him about family members who could not make it to the reunion...

... reminisced with him about family members who could not make it to the reunion...

Source: New York Times

... and asked her son countless questions, including, “How many children do you have?” and “Do you have a son?”

... and asked her son countless questions, including, “How many children do you have?” and “Do you have a son?”

Source: New York Times

Relatives brought each other gifts in the forms of clothes, medicine, toiletries, and food.

Relatives brought each other gifts in the forms of clothes, medicine, toiletries, and food.

Source: Reuters

Anything more luxurious would not make it past a checkpoint and would be confiscated by security.

Anything more luxurious would not make it past a checkpoint and would be confiscated by security.

Source: Reuters

Many Koreans also brought photographs of decades past to reminisce...

Many Koreans also brought photographs of decades past to reminisce...

...but also to help them recognize their family members, since it had been decades since they last saw each other.

...but also to help them recognize their family members, since it had been decades since they last saw each other.

They brought updated family snapshots and memories made since they'd been divided.

They brought updated family snapshots and memories made since they'd been divided.

And took some new portraits together.

And took some new portraits together.

Not to mention some selfies. Many attendees documented the time spent together ...

Not to mention some selfies. Many attendees documented the time spent together ...

... as they knew it would likely be their only meeting.

... as they knew it would likely be their only meeting.

Survivors say, though they are happy to see their families again, the reunions can be traumatizing...

Survivors say, though they are happy to see their families again, the reunions can be traumatizing...

Source: Reuters

According to a survey by the Red Cross, more than 25% of previous reunion participants faced depression and found it difficult to continue their daily lives afterward.

According to a survey by the Red Cross, more than 25% of previous reunion participants faced depression and found it difficult to continue their daily lives afterward.

Source: CNN

It's especially troubling when it's time to say goodbye.

It's especially troubling when it's time to say goodbye.

Like many others, Lee cried as she waved her final goodbye through the bus window to her son.

Like many others, Lee cried as she waved her final goodbye through the bus window to her son.

Many elderly relatives took the goodbyes especially hard.

Many elderly relatives took the goodbyes especially hard.

Since most of the attendees are over 70 years old...

Since most of the attendees are over 70 years old...

Source: CNN

...and since so many other families are waiting to be reunited...

...and since so many other families are waiting to be reunited...

.... they will likely not be chosen to attend a future reunion.

.... they will likely not be chosen to attend a future reunion.

Source: Reuters

As a supplement to the sporadic reunions, South Korea has also been pushing for more video conferences between separated relatives.

As a supplement to the sporadic reunions, South Korea has also been pushing for more video conferences between separated relatives.

Source: Business Insider

But rocky ties with its northern neighbor often gets in the way of the program.

But rocky ties with its northern neighbor often gets in the way of the program.

Source: Business Insider

For every year that goes by, an estimated 4,000 Koreans on the waiting list die without having the chance to attend a reunion.

For every year that goes by, an estimated 4,000 Koreans on the waiting list die without having the chance to attend a reunion.

Source: History Channel

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