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Abductees’ Families Meet in Sadness

Posted May. 17, 2006 07:04,   


Choi Gye-wol (age 82), the mother of Kim Young-nam (age 16 at the time) who was verified to be the husband of Japanese kidnap victim Megumi Yokota, seemed nervous.

Her bloodshot eyes seemed to indicate that she did not get a good night’s sleep. Her daughter Young-ja (age 48), who sat by her side, held her hands to comfort her.

Megumi’s father Shigeru Yokota (age 73) entered the room, assisted by his son Tetsuya Yokota (age 37) and the Representative Choi Sung-young (age 54) of the Korean Abductees` Family Union. White-haired Shigeru, clad in a black tuxedo, also looked anxious.

Yokota quickly walked up the podium and grasped his in-law Choi’s hand. The two, who had lost and not heard from their son and daughter for 27- 28 years, wept quietly.

Their reunion on Tuesday in the second floor conference room of National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives in Songpa-gu, Seoul was dramatic. When Megumi and Kim married in 1986, after getting kidnapped in 1977 and 1978 respectively, Yokota and Choi became in-laws without even knowing it.

Yokota said to the mother and daughter, “I am glad to meet you. I thank you on behalf of my daughter. Your son Young-nam became hope for my daughter, who lived a hard life after being kidnapped to North Korea.”

He said, “I heard that Kim and his daughter Hye-kyung were recently detained by the North Korean government. Even if it is sad news I am assured that it shows that they are both healthy.” He added that he hopes Kim would be sent home.

He went on to say, “My wife wants to see her in-laws very much, but could not make it to Korea because she is sick. I hope you will participate in the “Japanese Countermove Union,” a demonstration by a group that demands the return of those kidnapped that will take place in Tokyo, Japan on May 28.”

Young-ja, who is Kim’s older sister, said, “I feel like we are a family now that I have met our in-laws. If the families cooperate, he will be safely returned home.”

Choi and her daughter handed her a teacup and a letter and said, “I hope that we never give up our hope of uniting the whole family.” Yokota returned the gesture by giving them a decoration with the kidnap victim’s mark on it.

The two organizations from both countries demanded that the North Korean government return all the kidnap victims and make an apology.

They also suggested that Korean and Japanese kidnap victims’ families and non-government organizations create international cooperation for the improvement of human rights in North Korea, where the people are groaning under the tyranny of government, and an unconditional return of kidnap victims.

Prior to this, Yokota’s family, Director Teruaki Masumoto of “North Korean Abductees’ Family Meeting,” a family member of a kidnap victim Humiko Hirano, visited the Abductees’ Family Council and Korean War Abductees` Family Union.

Yokota’s party staged a “Yellow Ribbon Event” wishing for the return of kidnap victims, and a balloon-flying event titled, “Send the 100,000 Kidnap Victims Back Home” during this meeting.

Yokota will fly back to Japan in the afternoon after meeting Representative Park Geun-hye of the Grand National Party on Wednesday.

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