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Deaths of 7,000 South Korean Spies Dispatched to North Korea Ignored

Deaths of 7,000 South Korean Spies Dispatched to North Korea Ignored

Posted February. 16, 2004 22:47,   


While keen attention is being paid to South Korean operatives dispatched to North Korea due to the recent film “Silmido,” it has been belatedly discovered that the government sent a considerable number of operatives to North Korea even in the mid-1990s.

In addition, some argue that most of the families of slain South Korean spies dispatched to North Korea have not yet been notified.

According to the document that the Defense Ministry submitted to Grand National Party lawmaker Lee Kyeong-jae, 7,726 South Korean operatives infiltrated into North Korea have been killed since 1950. However, the government has informed only 136 families of the deaths of their family members killed while carrying out a mission as a South Korean spy.

A total of 13,835 operatives have been secretly dispatched to North Korea or trained to infiltrate into North Korea in the past 40 years: 4,536 operatives during the Korean War, between 1951 and July 1953; 3,604 operatives between 1953 and 1959; 2,806 operatives between 1960 and July 1972.

Interestingly, over 2,000 operatives were sent to North Korea from 1968, when the Silmido Unit was established for the assassination of then-North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, until 1994, confirming that South Koreans spies had been sent to North Koran until the mid-1990s.

However, the families of the spies have suffered extensively as the government has refused to identify whether the spies are dead or alive. A man only identified as A was recruited as a spy in 1962 when he turned 44. A used to support his handicapped wife and three children by working as a manual laborer, but he was eventually killed in his third infiltration into North Korea.

However, A’s family members had to live 40 years without knowing how A passed away. A’s death completely destroyed the family; one son, extremely depressed by the harsh reality, took his own life. The remaining son was sent to an orphanage; the wife also passed away. And the daughter could belatedly receive a letter notifying her of the death of her father in 2002.

“The government which made the families of the operatives live in misery has not even informed us of the deaths of the operatives for 40 years. This is the worst sin that a government can do to its people,” Lee said.

Lee also questioned whether the government is willing to properly compensate damages and help the families of the operatives redeem their honor saying, “According to the Compensation Act enacted last month, the government should compensate a total of 1.85 trillion won, but the government allotted only 450 billion won for the compensation.”

Lee is expected to contribute an article in connection with the South Korean spy issue to Daehangukin, a new monthly magazine to be launched next month. Daehangukin will mostly deal with South Korean spy issues.

In this regard, the Defense Ministry official said, “We can not show relevant records and materials as the issue is extremely sensitive. The compensation will be made according to the government’s enforcement order, as planned.”