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Husband of Slain SK Tourist Describes Life Without Her

Posted July. 10, 2009 07:35,   


A depressing occasion is approaching for Bahng Yeong-min, 54.

Saturday will mark the one-year anniversary of the killing of his wife, Park Wang-ja, who was shot to death by North Korean soldiers while vacationing at the North’s Mount Kumkang.

The Dong-A Ilbo recently talked to Bahng to see how he is holding up.

○ North Korea is an unbreakable wall

“I don’t drink much since the incident because I feel emptier than ever when I return home drunk,” he said.

Living in Seoul’s northern district of Nowon, Bahng refused to give an interview at first, saying, “I’d like to be forgotten and live a quiet life.” He eventually agreed to speak to Dong-A at a neighborhood bar.

“Though my wife nagged me, she served me honey water and soup the next morning,” he said. “I never imagined in my wildest dreams that my wife would be shot dead by North Korean soldiers.”

A year has passed but the killing remains unresolved and investigations into it have been closed.

“At the time, conservative civic organizations and the media urged the government to conduct an independent probe into the incident. But their attention didn’t last more than 10 days,” Bang said bitterly.

“A year ago, I didn’t want to file a complaint with the government or get civic groups to stage protests against North Korea,” he said. “What good would it be to do such things? We cannot get her back.”

“I couldn’t think of trying because an issue related to North Korea looked insurmountable. Killing a person cannot be justified for any reason, however.”

○ Living on his own

Bahng said he cries alone for his late wife, saying, “People say I’m heartless because I didn’t shed tears at my wife’s funeral. But when I’m alone, I feel a lump in my throat. Tears often well up in my eyes on the streets and in the subway. My son, who discharged from the military shortly before his mother’s death, was overwhelmed by shock and anger toward North Korea.”

Bahng said he has put aside his indignation and longing for his wife for the sake of their son. “I thought I couldn’t live this way anymore. From this year, I started cooking for my family and I and learned to live on my own,” he said.

Bahng’s son Jae-jeong, 24, returned to school last year. “My son cleans the house and does the laundry,” he said. “He’s endured his suffering well and always obeys me. He’s already grown up.”

Bahng said he often drinks with his son and advises him to forget the past and move on.

On the South Korean worker and two American journalists being held in North Korea, Bahng said, “They’re fortunate because they’re alive. At least they can hope to go home.”