SEOUL, South Korea – Hundreds of Korean family members separated for more than half a century by the Korean War embraced each other in tearful reunions Saturday, a day after troops exchanged gunfire in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the countries.

“I thought you were dead. Mother missed you so much,” 61-year-old South Korean Lee Min-gwan told his 90-year-old North Korean father, Ri Jong Ryol, according to pool reports by local reporters.

“I did not forget (you) every single day for the past 60 years,” Ri replied to his son, who was 100 days old when they were separated during the war.

Foreign media were not allowed to cover the reunions.

Lee was among 436 South Koreans who traveled by bus to North Korea’s Diamond Mountain resort Saturday to take part in the three-day reunions with about 100 North Korean relatives.

The event is the first in a two-part series of reunions. On Wednesday, about 200 North Koreans are to begin similar three-day reunions with their South Korean relatives at the same resort.

Millions of Korean families were separated after the Korean peninsula’s division in 1945 and the 1950-53 Korean War.