The first reunions of North and South Koreans in more than three years came too late for 90-year-old Seo Jeong-suk. She died in South Korea just 15 days ago.
So the daughter she grew old with, Kim Yong-ja, could not reintroduce her to the one she had not seen in more than 60 years. Kim (68) could only sob and hand her long-lost sister a framed photograph of Seo. Kim Yong Sil clasped the photo to her chest and said, "It's Mom's photo."
But dozens of elderly Koreans wept and embraced in a rush of words and emotion yesterday at North Korea's Diamond Mountain resort, in a rare period of detente between two bitter rivals that were once a single country. The reunions were all the more poignant because the participants will part again in a few days, likely forever. Yesterday's reunions were arranged after impoverished North Korea began calling recently for better ties with South Korea, in what outside analysts say is an attempt to win badly needed foreign investment and aid.