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[Opinion] U.S. Lawmaker Asks North to Repatriate POWs

Posted November. 15, 2005 03:08,   


“I have heard that our comrades who fought with us under the UN flag are still being detained and held in forced labor conditions in North Korea in violation of the truce agreement that includes exchange of prisoners of 1953. They should be sent back to their beloved families in South Korea!” wrote Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Henry Hyde in a letter to North Korean ambassador to the U.N. Park Kil Yeon on November 4.

Chairman Hyde is one U.S. politician who has an interest in the abductee issue. He has sent letters to the North asking the whereabouts of Korean American pastor Kim Dong-sil, who was abducted by the North while helping North Korean defectors early this year. In this letter as well, he urged the North to repatriate abductees such as Choi Jong-seok, father of the chairman of the Families of the Abducted and Detained in North Korea (FAD), Choi Wu-young, and Japanese abductees Megumi Yokota and Rumiko Matsumoto. He didn’t forget to warn the North that if these issues are not resolved, it will not be easy to form diplomatic relations between North Korea and the U.S. and to be removed from the list of terror-supporting countries.

He stressed that the issues of the North Korean abductees is not just relevant to Japan and South Korea, but also to the basic and global human rights issues the whole world, including the U.S., is paying attention to. This is an example of showing how seriously the U.S. is taking the issues. It also shows that the U.S. is approaching the issues in a humanitarian perspective, not as a way to pressure North Korea.

Opportunely, CNN has released footage yesterday in which North Korean citizens are executed publicly by the North Korean authorities without editing.

Hyde called the Korean Army “the comrades who fought with us.” This could be an expression of how U.S. mainstream society sees the Korean War and the Korea-U.S. alliance. However, how are such “comrades” treated by their own country? The South Korean government turns a deaf ear to the issue of South Korean POWs in the North. They say the issue is not helpful to the engagement policy toward the North. Meanwhile, they send back even the bodies of North Korean prisoners who were guerillas during the Korean War. This is totally wrong.

Song Mun-hong, Editorial Writer, songmh@donga.com