Reunion of Separated North Korea Families, How to Train In Advance?

[imText1]The 14th reunion of separated families, which began on the 28th, is being held at Mt. Gumgang. Yet the reunion of abductee, Kim Young Nam, and his mother, Choi Gye Wol, is receiving particular attention.

As expected, Kim Young Nam denied being abducted at the press conference on the 29th.

Participants of the reunion of separated families are carefully selected by North Korean authorities and must undergo a thorough investigation beforehand. The North Korean Red Cross receives a list of separated families from the South Korean Red Cross, and chooses the participants after examining the circumstances of each North Korean family. The more successful a candidate, the greater the chances of being selected. People who have been systematically groomed by authorities, people who have met Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il, or people with merits are given first priority.

In other cases, candidates with family in South Korea that hold political influence or with connections to an enterprise where lots of money can be obtained, are included as participants. People who have received punishment from North Korean authorities, who are impoverished, or who are confined to political concentration camps are excluded from participation.

‘We are living well, thanks to the General’

In preparation for the reunion, the North Korean Red Cross thoroughly trains separated families in advance.

One month prior to the reunion, families go to Pyongyang for training and education. They are taught to say to their South Korean families that ‘We are living well, thanks to the General.’ To prepare for cases where questions are asked in regard to the political system, they are taught ways around answering, such as changing the topic.

They are even taught not to beg their families for money. Because of this, separated families fear they will make verbal mistakes and as the day of reunion approaches, they are often filled with worry, rather than joy.

During the month that families receive training in Pyongyang, they eat food offered by authorities and live comfortably. In order to create a healthy appearance similar to that of South Korean families, authorities pay particular attention to the food provided. Directly prior to the event, an outfit, shoes, soap, towel and other daily necessities are provided.

Last year on August 30th, at the 11th reunion of separated families, families participating from the North were all supplied with an outfit, hat, towel and others, which they publicized to the press.

“Reporters armbands warn (South Korean) ‘National Security Agency personnel’”

North Korean authorities at the reunion stressed to the participants to pay particular attention to the reporters with the armbands. “Reporters with armbands, are really part of the (South Korean) National Security, (the predecessor of South Korean National Intelligence Service) personnel.”

When a group of separated familie first came to Seoul in September, 1985, Chosun (North Korea) Central TV and the Rodong-Shinmun publicized the face of a South Korean reporter with the caption “The eyes of the people with reporter’s armbands are like the eyes of savages stalking for food” and charged that they “are generally (South Korean) National Security Agency personnel”

Since 1985, 14,600 people of from the South and North have been reunited.

Having not spoken for half a century, not only is the time insufficient, but the prying eyes of the authorities at the reunion cast a shadow over the event, as it forces the North Koreans to lie, and not of their own accord.

Questions or comments about this article? Contact us at