One September day in 1974, President Kim Il Sung was receiving several home-visiting delegations from Chongryon including one of young artistes and sportspeople.
Tears welled up in their eyes as they took it in turn to present bouquets to the President, whom they had been longing to see.
He gave each of them a gentle pat on the shoulder, saying that he had invited them all because he wanted to see them, and they should not cry on this happy day. He, too, was almost in tears as he comforted his guests.
But seeing that they could still not keep the tears from their eyes, the President consoled them again, and then changed the subject, asking them in turn about their jobs. He then asked the officials accompanying them whether they had been to Mt. Paektu, whether the young 15-year-olds found it difficult to make such a long journey in company with the older people, whether they might feel seasick on their way back if they took the ship, the Mangyongbong, and whether or not they had been seasick on the voyage to the homeland.
He then moved towards a platform where other guests were waiting. He extended a warm welcome to these visitors, too. A shout of joy exploded among the audience.
As the noise subsided, the President said: “I frequently meet many foreign delegations and Korean officials from different sectors, but I am never more pleased than when I meet home-visiting compatriots from Japan.
“The sense of kinship between compatriots is deep-seated. My heart throbs with delight each time I am informed that compatriots will visit the homeland from an alien land where they are living a hard life, and even more so when I meet them.”
Many of the guests began to sob again before he concluded his speech.
The President, too, was emotional, and he removed his glasses and dried his tears on a handkerchief. After a while, he resumed his speech, saying he was very happy to see them that day, and he would be happier if he met young students and other people from south Korea after the country was reunified. He added that he was so moved at seeing them all in tears that he was unable to speak properly.
He held his hands out in a gesture to calm the audience, and said that they would meet again on the road of revolution and should work harder to complete the cause of national reunification. And then he explained the tasks to be tackled by the Korean Youth League in Japan.