The on-again/off-again thaw between the United States and North Korea seems to be in a more off-again mode, with President Donald Trump canceling a trip by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang over concerns about the seriousness of North Korean denuclearization.
This isn’t the first time this has happened, mind you, and we’ve usually seen some movement back the table by the Juche regime after such moves. In fact, The Washington Post reported late Saturday that the South Koreans were urging a greater thaw.
“Rather than reading into each and every turn in the situation, it is more important to focus diplomatic efforts on the faithful execution of what has been agreed in the United States-North Korea summit and the inter-Korean summit, while maintaining the momentum for talks on the long-term outlook,” the ministry said in a statement.
That kind of statement isn’t the only good thing to come out of Trump’s Korea peace talks, however. You’re not seeing Pyongyang firing missiles into the sea or threatening Guam, and the language coming out of state-run news outlet KCNA these days certainly isn’t of the “you imperialist pigs must die” variety as it once was.
And perhaps most importantly, the peace talks are reuniting families that likely thought they would never see each other again.
“With tears and cries, dozens of elderly and frail South and North Korean family members met on Monday (Aug 20) for the first time since the peninsula and their relationships were torn apart by war nearly 70 years ago,” the Singapore-based Channel NewsAsia reported.
“Clasping one another, they tried to bridge the decades of separation through precious physical contact and by showing each other pictures of their relatives.”
These are highly supervised meetings. Fox News reported that out of thousands of applicants, only a handful deemed significantly loyal to the Kim regime were allowed to take part, mostly to avoid spreading a bad impression of life in North Korea.
“Some of those selected for this year’s reunions dropped out after learning that their parents or siblings had died and they could only meet more distant relatives whom they had never seen before,” Channel NewsAsia added.
The meetings took place at the North Korean resort of Mount Kumgang, where families spent 11 hours together over three days, “mostly under the watchful eyes of North Korean agents.”
The meetings had been off for three years, but resumed after the diplomatic thaw between North and South Korea, as well as the United States, earlier this year. That’s a thaw that likely would not have happened without Trump’s vigorous approach to North Korea’s intransigence.
And the sight was truly emotional.
“Lee Keum-seom, now tiny and frail at 92, met her son for the first time since she and her infant daughter were separated from him and her husband as they fled” to the South, Channel NewsAsia reported.
“At the time Ri Sang Chol was aged just four. Lee shouted his name when she saw the now 71-year-old, before hugging him as both were overcome with emotion.”
Mother and daughter lived in the South; father and son lived in the North.
“Her son showed her pictures of his family in the North — including her late husband — telling her: ‘This is a photo of father.'”
“I never imagined this day would come,” Lee said before the trip. “I didn’t even know if he was alive or not.”
“I never imagined this day would come…I didn’t even know if he was alive or not": Korean families separated by war meet for first time in more than sixty yearshttps://t.co/Ud35HQLQ2v pic.twitter.com/qzn918PRBt
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) August 20, 2018
Let’s hope, as these separated families age, a greater thaw is able to bring more of them together.
Perhaps hundreds of lives changed can turn into thousands of lives changed,
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