SOUTH KOREA - Feisty and ambitious, a 21-year-old Kim Myung-do crossed the border to the South to fulfill his dream of studying literature and becoming a writer.
He never thought his choice would see him separated from his whole family for over 60 years. Not a single day has passed without guilt, remorse and longing for the loved ones he left behind in North Korea.
"I feel so sorry that I came down alone. They must have gone through enormous hardships," Kim, now 89, said during an interview at his home in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province.
The retired editor is among 250 South Korean preliminary candidates for the first family reunions in three years.
Only 100 from each side will be picked to take part in the meeting at the Mount Geumgangsan resort on the North's eastern coast from Sept. 25-30.
Kim had lived with his grandparents, parents and six younger brothers and sisters in the southern county of Eunyul in North Korea.
"Since then I've never heard from them," Kim said, his eyes welling up with tears.
He is desperate for a chance to say sorry and catch up on lost time with his ill-fated family.