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Government Should Spearhead Efforts to Have Kidnapped Returned

Government Should Spearhead Efforts to Have Kidnapped Returned

Posted September. 18, 2002 22:40,   


North Korean leader Kim Jung Il acknowledged their kidnapping of Japanese and apologized for it. Hearing this, more and more South Korean citizens are demanding that our government should get out of the old grooves of passiveness, and actively engage in resolving matters regarding the kidnapped South Korean civilians and solders captured and held by North.

The government estimates that the total number of 19,000 solders were captured by North, and 340 of them are still alive and being held in North. It also estimates that 7,034 civilians were abducted during the Korean War and 486 have been kidnapped after the war. It believes they are still alive in North.

Families of the abducted people criticize our government’s lukewarm attitude in handling these matters. They say that the government has not made any assertive request for return of the kidnapped civilians and the solders being held. They point out that, on the other hand, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi strongly demanded the return of the kidnapped Japanese at the summit with North Korean ruler Kim Jung Il.

Coalition for Families of the Kidnapped During the Korean War (CFKDKW) (Chairman, Lee Mee-il) issued a statement on September 18, 2002, and demanded, “The government should make an official request to North for return of the kidnapped.”

In the statement, the CFKDKW argued, “Japan mustered up the public opinion and support, and exercised its consolidated political power to rescue the 11 kidnapped Japanese. Finally, those Japanese efforts led to the apology of North Korean leader Kim Jung Il. On the contrary, our government has done nothing for that purpose during the series of talks held so far. Until the kidnapped are returned to us, the government should stop giving all the aids to North.” It also contended, “The government should make a prompt and strong demand to North Korean leader Kim. Kim should release the information of all the abducted people, make an official apology for North’s misconduct, and promptly return the remaining people if they are alive or the remains of the people who are already dead.”

Another civil rights organization, which works for the return of the kidnapped people, confirmed that it is preparing for a large-scale demonstration and rally as early as next week in order to demand for the prompt return of them. Rev. Lee Suh, who heads the organization, said, “In the future, we will team up with the Japanese NGO and resolve the matters related to the kidnapped in cooperation with it.”

In response, the government just keeps repeating that the returning of the solders and civilians kidnapped by North shall be resolved in the near future for humanitarian purposes. One government official just said, “We have paved the way for resolution of the matter through the agreement made at the 4th meeting of South’s and North’s Red Cross (6th –8th). Thus, we will do our best to resolve, through meetings of government officials and Red Crosses of both, the matters concerning return of solders and civilians abducted.”

Young-Sik Kim Dong-Yong Min spear@donga.com mindy@donga.com