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Petition: Defector Personal information Leaked to North

Posted October. 28, 2005 07:38,   


The personal information of thousands of North Korean defectors living in South Korea has been revealed, hurting their remaining family members in the North, according to a petition filed at the National Human Rights Commission of South Korea.

The commission announced on October 27 that Han Chang Gwon (44), the executive director of the Gyorye Missionary Society (a North Korean defectors group in South Korea), petitioned the commission against the National Police Agency release of the personal information of 4,000 members of Sung Ui Dongjihoe, the biggest North Korean defectors group in South Korea.

Han said, “In July, I obtained the list of members of Sung Ui Dongjihoe from another defectors group. It contained detailed information about the members, including their names, dates of birth, home addresses in South Korea, contact numbers, jobs, and even their occupations before their defection.”

He explained, “Sung Ui Dongjihoe was regularly given a list of North Korean defectors from the National Police Agency until 2003. There are rumors that North Korea’s National Security Agency attained the list of defectors settling in South Korea, and most defectors lost contact with their families in the North.”

He also claimed that another defectors’ list aside from the one he gained access to has been in circulation from last May and that it even states their former addresses in North Korea.

He added, “I reported the leaking of the list to the National Police Agency and the National Intelligence Service and called on them to do something, but they didn’t. That’s why I submitted the petition to the commission.”

In response, a police official said, “We told Han that we will embark on a formal investigation when he takes legal action, but he hasn’t done so. It is true that we provided the list of some 1,100 North Korean defectors to Sung Ui Dongjihoe.”

Sung Ui Dongjihoe was established in November, 1980. Up until recently, all North Korean defectors coming to South Korea had to join the group after finishing programs in Hanawon, a government institution that helps North Korean refugees settle in South Korea. It recently altered regulations for voluntary entry. The group has some 4,800 members and receives eight million won in monthly subsidies from the Police Agency.

Director Han, a former North Korean lumberman who worked in Russia, entered South Korea in August 1994. He sparked a controversy in December 1998 by saying he was tortured by the National Security Planning Agency, the South Korean intelligence bureau at the time.

Jae-Myoung Lee egija@donga.com