Posted February. 26, 2010 07:23,
An 81-year-old South Korean POW who was held in North Korea was sent back to the North by Chinese police in August last year, a Seoul-based civic group said yesterday.
Choi Seong-yong, head of an association of families of South Koreans kidnapped by the North, quoted a source in China as saying, He was sent to Musan, North Korea, from a diplomatic office in Helong in Chinas Jilin province and was again transferred to a security office in Chongjin in North Koreas North Hamkyong Province.
A South Korean official said, The government is aware of a rumor that (the POW) was transferred to North Korea last year.
If the rumor is true, this means the POW, who was originally known to have been detained for six months by Chinese police, was repatriated to the North a month after his arrest in China.
The source said, however, We havent confirmed the rumor yet. There are other rumors about him as well.
With his whereabouts unknown and rumors of his deportation to North Korea rising, Beijing is facing blame for failing to fulfill its responsibility.
The Foreign Ministry in Seoul has asked Beijing dozens of times to say which place he was detained in and the status of his physical condition, but China reportedly said it does not know his whereabouts.
South Korea has also unsuccessfully tried to find him through unofficial channels.
An official in Seoul said, He was arrested because an organization that helped him escape North Korea reported him to Chinese police after failing to compromise over payment for the defection with a Chinese broker.
One staff member of the organization reportedly informed police of the POWs defection through a former police officer.
Seoul is mulling how to persuade Beijing to resolve the issue. A South Korean official said, China should fulfill its humanitarian responsibility as a responsible member of the international community, adding, Instead of pursuing improvement of bilateral relations with North Korea, China needs diplomatic efforts beneficial to itself over the long term.
Choi also said, North Korea is conducting a household survey of South Korean abductees and has enhanced monitoring and control over them.