About 100 mostly elderly South Koreans will be in the North today through Thursday for a reunion with relatives they haven't seen since the Korean War in the 1950s in the first such meeting since 2010. The South Koreans are traveling by bus to Mount Kumgang for what will likely be the last time the relatives meet because there are more than 65,000 on the waiting list, Agence France-Presse reported.
For some, it is their first time to meet. Others are meeting relatives they thought were dead. Reuters says there will be 90 from the South and 96 from the North.
Some of the South Koreans use wheelchairs and their convoy is accompanied by ambulances, as many of them are in their 80s and 90s. They will meet their relatives for just two hours twice a day, bringing gifts, clothes, medicine, food and cash -- items that illustrate how rich South Korea has become while North Korea struggles.
The first such reunion happened in 1985 and became more regular after 2000, with 18 held between then and 2010, according to the South Korean government's official website. North Korea canceled a 2013 meeting just days before it was scheduled, to protest South Korean media coverage of the North, according to the Wall Street Journal.
This year's reunion was arranged as part of a deal to end a confrontation in August and was almost canceled after South Korean President Park Geun-hye called on the North to stop developing nuclear weapons and to improve human rights, the Journal said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has used the reunions as leverage to demand South Korea cancel military exercises, and to get economic concessions as exports to China, its biggest trading partner, fall amid China's slowing growth, the Journal said.