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`Arrested S. Korean POW Sent Back to N. Korea`

Posted July. 27, 2010 13:24,   


An 81-year-old South Korean prisoner of war from the Korean War is known to have been sent back to North Korea after being arrested in China in August last year.

A source from the South Korean government told The Dong-A Ilbo Monday, “The government has made tremendous diplomatic efforts (to bring him to South Korea) but he was eventually sent back to North Korea.”

An allegation had arose in February that he was sent to the North in September last year, but a government official in Seoul said at the time, “We are aware of the rumor but have not confirmed it yet.”

South Korea said it contacted Chinese diplomatic authorities more than 50 times since he was detained in China (to request his handover to South Korea), but Beijing failed to inform Seoul of his location and health condition. The South reportedly pushed China on the matter to the point that it caused a diplomatic row.

Due to Beijing’s weak response, government figures in Seoul reportedly urged a shift to the diplomatic strategy of officially urging his repatriation to South Korea instead of the “calm underwater diplomacy.”

This proposal was rejected, however, for fear of a negative impact on Seoul-Beijing relations such as hindering Chinese cooperation in other fields, including economic cooperation or North Korea’s nuclear program.

Experts say China will change its stance only if South Korea releases an official request for Beijing to perform its humanitarian obligations as a responsible member of the international community on South Korean POWs and North Korean defectors.

The POW was arrested on August 24 last year, eight days after he fled North Korea with the help of a South Korean civic group. The refugee broker who had helped him escape reported him to Chinese police after arguing with the civic group over money.

The POW fought in the Korean War in the third division of the South Korean Army’s 5th Corps and was captured by North Korean forces in 1952.