South Korean prepares to meet widow and son of brother she lost 68 years ago

A single tear rolled down Hak Sun Jeong’s cheek as she told me about the day they lost her brother.

She was 16 years old and living in Incheon on the outskirts of Seoul, not far from the newly created border between the North and South.

The Korean War was about to break out and the area had started to fill up with Russian and American soldiers. It was chaotic and terrifying. Her parents decided to move the family further South.

But in the rush her brother, then 18, was taken away by the army to help build up the country’s defences. They never saw him again.

Many families were separated by the nation-dividing Korean war. Credit: AP

The 83-year-old says her parents lived the rest of their lives, consumed with the anguish of never knowing what happened to him.

She recalls her mother crying almost every day, and for many years later she’d have false sightings of him in the street.

She rushed up behind a man she thought could be her son, spun him around, and demanded to know his name, only to be disappointed.

In 2015 Hak Sun applied to the Red Cross to be part of the last reunion day. Her application wasn't successful.

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, she got a call from the Red Cross to say this time she had been selected. But her joy at finding out she had been chosen was short lived.

The charity also had to break the news that her brother had passed away. It will be his wife and son who she will meet at the Diamond Mountain resort today.

Korean families will meet in the North's Diamond Mountain resort. Credit: AP

Hak Sun Jeong lives on her own in a quiet community two hours from Seoul. Her husband died several years ago and her three sons and their families live in Argentina where they run a wholesale business.

She tried to live there after her husband died, but didn’t adapt well and came back to South Korea in 2010.

In her sparsely furnished apartment I noticed a calendar on the wall with the date of her departure for the North circled.

When I asked her about it she gripped my hands and told me she was so excited she had been checking the calendar every day, counting down to her reunion in the North.

Hak Sun Jeong has been looking forward to her departure date for some time. Credit: ITV News

With so few people selected she says she feels very thankful to get this opportunity. After 2015, she had given up hope of meeting her brother, or his family.

Today, after 68 years, Mrs Jeong might finally learn what happened to her brother.