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Son of NK Kidnap Victim Yearns for Father

Posted March. 13, 2009 08:10,   


“(Japanese kidnap victim) Yaeko Taguchi’s son Koichiro Iizuka, who met (former North Korean agent) Kim Hyon-hui, was separated from his mother when he was a year old. I lost my father when I was two.”

Hwang In-cheol, 42, made this statement yesterday at an office for the families of the victims of the 1969 hijacking of a Korean Air flight by North Korea.

“People have forgotten this incident and our government has paid no attention to us. The Japanese government has constantly raised North Korea’s past kidnappings. Our government should learn from the Japanese government,” he said.

Though 40 years have passed since the hijacking, Hwang cannot hold back tears when thinking of his father. A worn-out photo of his father hugging his son and nephew is the only memory Hwang has of his father.

At 12:25 p.m. on Dec. 11, 1969, a Korean Air flight carrying four crew members and 47 passengers was hijacked by a North Korean spy while flying over Daegwallyeong. The plane had taken off from Gangneung and was en route to Seoul.

Hwang Won, who was a producer for the network MBC’s Gangneung branch at that time, was abroad.

North Korea sent 39 passengers back to South Korea 66 days after the hijacking but not the four crew members and seven passengers. All four crew are confirmed to be alive in the North, but the fates of the seven passengers remain unknown.

The 39 repatriated passengers said Hwang Won got in trouble with North Korean lecturers while receiving ideological training because he openly rejected communism and sang the South Korean song “Gagopa (I Want to Go).”

As a child, Hwang In-cheol was not aware of his father’s kidnapping. “I was told that my father went to the United States for business. With little memory of him, I wondered what happened to him,” he said.

In the third grade, Hwang In-cheol eventually heard the news from his uncle. When he told of his father’s kidnapping to his friends, he was called the son of a North Korean spy.

“I can understand why my friends acted this way because they were imbued with anti-communist ideology. For them, being kidnapped by North Korea was synonymous with defecting to North Korea,” he said.

Because of this, Hwang In-cheol kept his father’s abduction to himself for decades.