SEOUL, South Korea – An elderly German woman has traveled to North Korea to be reunited with her husband after 47 years apart, a news report said Tuesday.
Renate Hong, 71, married Hong Ok Gun in 1960 when the North Korean man was a student in then-East Germany. But their life together ended a year later after he and all other North Korean students were recalled to their communist homeland.
Renate lost contact with her husband in 1963 but never remarried, raising their two sons alone and waiting for a chance to reunite with the man who she fell in love with at first sight.
South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported Tuesday that Renate and her two middle-aged sons were on a visit to North Korea after the government there approved their trip. They arrived July 25 in Pyongyang.
"Today is the day when my dream is coming true," the paper quoted Renate as saying before her departure. "At last, I get to finalize the last chapter of my case."
The daily carried a picture of her and the two sons, now 47 and 48, showing off their passports stamped with North Korean visas.
"It really feels strange to think that I will see my father for the first time in my life," said the couple's elder son, Peter. "I cannot imagine what my father looks like now. I will probably be speechless when I see him."
The paper also carried a picture of gray-haired Ok Gun, saying the couple had resumed correspondence.
Renate had learned last year that her 74-year-old husband was still alive in the North and living with a new family.
She had been pursuing a visit to the communist nation and traveled in 2007 to the South Korean capital, Seoul, to deliver letters addressed to leaders of the two Koreas ahead of a summit meeting to plead her case.
Thousands of South and North Koreans divided by their heavily armed border have met for reunions since 2000 as part of reconciliation efforts between the two Koreas. However, Renate was believed to be the first foreigner invited for such a reunion with a North Korean relative, the paper said.