Lee Keum-seom hasn’t held her son in 68 years. The last time she saw him, Sang Chol was four years old, and together with her husband and their daughter, they were headed south, fleeing the fighting during the early days of the Korean War.
In the mass of hundreds of thousands of others trying to escape, Lee and her daughter lost sight of her husband and Sang Chol. They continued south, becoming part of the flood of refugees who crossed what became the Demilitarized Zone. Only later did she discover that her husband and son remained on the other side of the divide, in North Korea. They are among the tens of thousands of Koreans whose families were separated by the war — but today they were able to reunite, as part of government-run family reunions to bring dozens of relatives back together.
Before their meeting, Lee Keum-seom had wondered “Will it be okay to hug my son who’s over 70 years old?” But in the end, there was no hesitation, and the two elderly Koreans embraced each other tightly, both in tears. During the whole reunion, they did not let go of each others’ hands. Photo: Korea Pool/Getty Images