‘I am just a bit too tired to worry about it now.’ On BBC Radio 4 for the few seconds before the translation overrides the actualite, we hear a Korean voice that is clear and clipped. She doesn’t sound at all tired, this old woman who was separated from her ‘parents and siblings’ 60 years ago, when North and South Korea sealed their borders.
She is one of 70 000 South Koreans registered for the the Red Cross re-unification project – families, that is, not Korea itself; now re-starting after a three-year gap due to worsening relations between Seoul and Pyongyang. But before the cessation there were 18 rounds of family re-unions, and the old woman’s hopes never materialised:
‘A decade ago when I first heard about the reunions, it felt as if I could almost meet them tomorrow. But so many re-unions have passed and I have never been picked, so I wonder whether my chance will ever come.
‘I am just a bit too tired…,’ she concludes.
Sixty years of separation. Nearly twice the global average lifespan of a century ago. Threescore years, though not (yet) the extra 10 to make up the full Biblical complement. But already enough time to live a life and build a nation.
She’s too tired to worry about it now. She’s not going to let herself get excited at the prospect. Hasn’t the energy.
Is this proof of your resilience, evidence that you’ve got on with what you had to get on with, worn yourself out with real cares and concerns instead of pining for the life that wasn’t there?
Or should it make us even more sad for your loss, that you’ve lost even the sense of loss which used to burn right through you when first left alone?
Yes, you – the elderly Korean lady with the unexpectedly strong voice.