Go to contents

Four crewmen of hijacked S. Korean airliner confirmed to be alive

Four crewmen of hijacked S. Korean airliner confirmed to be alive

Posted February. 27, 2001 19:49,   


The captain, assistant captain and two other crew members of Korean Air Lines (KAL) YS-11, hijacked by North Korean agents in 1969, were learned Tuesday to be alive in the North. But the fate of seven abducted passengers remains unknown.

Lee Hu-Dok, 77, was given the information while visiting Pyongyang as a member of the latest inter-Korean family reunion contingent. Lee met with her daughter Sung Kyong-Hee, a flight attendant on the ill-fated aircraft, at the Koryo Hotel. According to Sung, KAL captain Yoo Byung-Hwa and assistant captain Choi Sok-Man are in the North Korean Air Force, and Choi has a son and a daughter. Flight attendant Chung Kyong-Suk lives with Sung in Pyongyang and remain as close as sisters, she added.

Meanwhile, on the second day of exchange visits in Seoul and Pyongyang, the long-separated family members from the South and the North held private reunions in the morning and afternoon, respectively.

Meeting with her grandson, granddaughter and son-in-law for the first time in three decades, Lee Hu-Dok and her relatives celebrated Lee`s birthday, which falls on March 6. Song Won-Ho, 75, and Kim Je-Dok, 69, former South Korean prisoners of war (POWs), also met with their brothers from the South.

Son Sa-Jong, 90, who is stricken with senile dementia, collapsed due apparently to fatigue and the impact of his emotional reunion with his son. He was treated at a Pyongyang hospital early Tuesday morning. Afterwards, he was allowed to meet with his son, Son Yang-Rok, 55, but failed to recognize him.

While the separated families held private reunions in the morning, Kim Kyong-Rak, chief of the North Korean delegation, paid a courtesy call on Suh Young-Hoon, president of the Korea National Red Cross (KNRC), and asked him to repatriate some 30 ex-North Korean spies and their family members in the South. He said they were forced to remain here, despite South Korea`s contention that they are unwilling to return to the North. The North Korean official also lodged a complaint over South Korean media reports that described former South Korean soldiers in the North as POWs, claiming that there had been prisoners of war but volunteered to remain in the North.

In response, KNRC president Suh stated that the question should be resolved in accordance with a National Assembly decision and the will of the people. He proposed that because the reunions are so expensive, the two Koreas should push for correspondence by mail and establish permanent meeting points as soon as possible.

Tomorrow, the visiting relatives from the two Koreas are scheduled to hold farewell reunions in front of the Lotte World in Seoul and the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang for about 30 minutes before returning home on Asiana Airlines planes.

Kim Young-Sik spear@donga.com