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Celebrating the inscription of the Archives of the KBS Special Live Broadcast "Finding Dispersed Families" on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register

<KBS Special Live Broadcast "Finding Dispersed Families”>
submitted to UNESCO in 2014

June 1983.
It all started on a hot summer day in Seoul.
The air was electric with energy and hope: So began 138 days of live broadcasts that moved people to tears all over the world.

The Korean War broke out and 16 UN nations came to take part.
It was all-out conflict between the communist and liberal blocs.
The war resulted in four million casualties and 100,000 orphaned children.
With no winner, it ended with an armistice agreement on July 27, 1953.
The Korean Peninsula still remains the last outpost of the Cold War.

It was 33 years after the outbreak of the Korean War, 30 years after the cease-fire that stilled the guns.
People who were separated from their families still vividly remembered that day.

Division of the country into South and North Korea resulted in more than ten million people separated from their families.
But if they’re living, surely they can meet again …
Then let’s make it happen!
That’s how it all started the KBS special live broadcast to reunite dispersed families.
It was the most ambitious and impactful humanitarian TV campaign in the world.

Everyday, the program received an average of more than 60,000 calls.
A total of 100,952 applications were submitted!
Of these, 53,536 cases were presented on television.
And finally, 10,189 people were tearfully reunited with their long-lost relatives.

The Archives of the KBS Special Live Broadcast, “Finding Dispersed Families” comprises 20,522 records of the live broadcasts of reunions of war-dispersed families, which began at 10:15 p.m. on June 30 and ended at 4:00 a.m. on November 14, 1983.
It includes 463 videotapes of 453 hours and 45 minutes of broadcasts, producers’ journals, applications to participate, broadcast ephemera, audiotapes, and photographs.

It was an epic, unprecedented television campaign.
The scenes of sorrow and joy that filled the TV screen spurred people from all walks of life to participate, and helped bridge the divide between Korea’s war generation and its post-war generation.

Many countries have suffered war and division, but no other country has shared the pain and wounds of war this way, on television.
This heritage documents the first time that television was harnessed in a massive effort to reunite a nation’s war-dispersed families.
It is also on record, the program with Korea’s highest-ever viewer ratings and rate of participation.

In the summer of 1983, Yeouido Plaza and the area surrounding KBS broadcast center became a sea of people seeking to find lost relatives.
For 138 days the world wept along with them, gripped by the stories of sorrow and pain endured and finally being shared by this small East Asian nation.

And, in 1984, with the special live broadcast, KBS became the first broadcasting organization to win the Gold Mercury International Ad Honorem award at the 24th Gold Mercury International Peace and Cooperation Summit.
The broadcast served as a catalyst for the first family reunions between South and North Korea.
As of 2014, a total of 18,523 people in the South and North who had been separated by the cease-fire line, were reunited with their families.

As they hugged each other and wept, many others wept with them, healing their own wounds.
The program informed the world of the wretchedness of war and national division and delivered a message of peace: such a tragedy should never be allowed to happen again.

But the Korean Peninsula remains divided and countless dispersed families in South and North Korea are growing older as they yearn to see each other again.
The tragedy of separation continues for families sundered by war.
It is a fallout of human history that must be remembered not only by Koreans but also by the whole world.

All records from the KBS broadcast to find dispersed families have been converted to digital form and can be searched online through the KBS Archive System.
The records can also be accessed on the KBS “Finding Dispersed Families” website.
People who appeared on the broadcasts can be searched by name on a database.
This service will be available in other languages in the future.
Related records continue to be collected through the KBS website and other channels.

The tragedy of war and division.
“Finding Dispersed Families” is part of the heartrending process of recovery.
It is documentary heritage that must be preserved as we aspire for peace.