Histories, North Korea
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KBS Family Reunion Broadcast nominated to UNESCO Memory of the World Register

This post originally contained a YouTube video, which was later removed by the uploader.

The Archives of the 1983 KBS Special Live Broadcast “Finding Dispersed Families” – the longest live broadcast in history is nominated to UNESCO’s International Memory of the World Register.

“Originally planned to run for 95 minutes, the programme was soon overwhelmed by the stories of South Korean families separated by the chaos of the Korean War, and ended up running for a record-breaking 138 days (450 minutes/4 months). People filled the walls and floors around the KBS building with their stories, and some managed to miraculously find their family”

It is notable that this 1983 programme reunited family members within South Korea only – and have no relation to the South-North families reunions the Pyongyang regime uses as a political lever these days.

After the Korean War ended in 1953, South Korea as a nation was a mess. Most of its infrastructure had been bombed, people had migrated here and there, mostly towards the South (Busan) from Seoul, and on their way lost many family members. You need to remember that Korea used to be extremely poor – there was no effective way to broadcast one’s story unless one wealthy.

이산가족 1983 kbs

Citizens look at the thousands of hand-written posters listing the names, age, and story of lost family members at KBS heaquarters in Yeouido. In the left corner, a posters reads “South Pyeongan Province”.

Young man: “I posted the story [of how I got separated] on the wall, then saw someone pull it off. When we compared our stories, they were identical. I was sure of it”


The walls of the KBS building soon became a make-shift bulletin board.

“The programme was recognised for its universality, the feeling of missing one’s family, transmitted through the medium of a live broadcast”

Professor Seo, Kyeong-ho: “It is a work […] combining a traditional sentiment with the most up-to-date technology [of the time]”

The Chinese government has also submitted archives on sex slaves under Japanese imperial rule as well as archives on the Nanjing Massacre.

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