Hundreds of elderly South and North Koreans separated for almost 60 years by barbed wire and minefields wept as the second stage of a reunion program got underway.

After three days of reunions between 97 South Koreans and 233 relatives from the North, 99 North Koreans were meeting 431 family members from the South for the first time since the 1950-53 war.

Kim Yu-Jung shed tears as she greeted her 75-year-old North Korean daughter Ri Hye-Gyong, Yonhap news agency reported from the North's Mount Kumgang resort, where the program is being held.

Ri disappeared in 1951 aged 16 while serving as a nurse for North Korean soldiers.

"It's been 60 years and I've been missing you even in my dreams," she told her mother and two sisters.

"You are now 100 years old and I've thought I could never see you again," Yonhap quoted her as saying.

"It's so good I have lived to see my daughter," Kim told reporters.

Four more reunion sessions are scheduled, ending on Thursday.

As part of a series of recent peace overtures to the South, the communist North agreed to restart the humanitarian program following a lapse of two years.

There are no mail or telephone services for civilians across one of the world's most heavily fortified frontiers, leaving separated families unaware in many cases whether relatives are even still alive.

Since the program began in earnest in 2000, more than 16,000 people from both sides have held face-to-face meetings. Some 3,200 others have communicated through video-links.

But almost one-third of more than 127,000 South Koreans who applied for reunions since 2000 have died without achieving their dream.

Seoul chose applicants for the latest program by computer lottery.

Police quoted by Yonhap said a grief-stricken 75-year-old man threw himself in front of a train Monday after failing to be selected.