In 1983, a Korean TV station ran a live show reuniting families separated by war. It became a 138-day marathon of hope.
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It kind of goes without saying that we could all use a reunion right now. And this video is a testament to the profoundly beautiful experiences that can happen when people are reunited after long absences. It's also a testament to the idea of never giving up hope. After all, these Korean families were separated by 30 years after the horrific civil war that led to the creation of North and South Korea. An estimated 2-3 million Korean civilians died in the conflict, more than World War II and Vietnam. And with technology then not being what it is now, thousands of family members were separated during and after the conflict, often with no way of finding out if their loved ones had survived.

So, in June 1983, Korean broadcast station KBS News broadcast a special to help reunite displaced family members. It was reportedly the first time a television program had been used to reunite families separated by a war. The entire program was meant to go on for about 45 minutes. But after an incredible outpouring of Korean seeking help finding their relatives, it ended up lasting for 138 days and a total of 453 hours.. And as this short video shows, it might just be one of the most powerful moments in television history.



Parents reunited with children, brothers and sister seeing each other for the first time in decades, it's incredibly powerful to put it lightly. So much time had passed that participants were required to state a number of facts to confirm their identities and relations. But sometimes none of that was necessary. In one exchange, the network says: "We have a woman who says she's your mother. Seen on a split screen, the younger man response emotionally: "That's her. I would never forget my mother's face."

The mother's first words? "You must have suffered a long time." Her son: "For so long." Then, the two burst into tears and are reunited.

Like we said, incredibly powerful stuff.

So much so that over 100,000 Koreans signed up to participate as the show carried on for 138 days, more than one-third of an entire year, in a non-stop marathon of reunion efforts.

Even then-President Ronald Reagan weighed in, saying: "I've heard about the program that uses television to reunite families that have been torn apart. Today, I urge North Korea it is time to take part in this TV reunification program."

Ultimately, 10,189 families were reunited. You can watch a short highlight of some of the reunions below:


This news broadcast reunited 10,189 families separated by war www.youtube.com

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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