중앙데일리

4 abductees are still alive in the North

Apr 27,2006
Four South Koreans abducted to North Korea in the late 1970s, at about the same time that Kim Yong-nam was seized, are still alive in the North, the head of the National Intelligence Service told the National Assembly yesterday.
Mr. Kim, a teenager at the time, later married a Japanese abductee, Megumi Yokota, in North Korea. Japan’s efforts to account for its abducted nationals thrust Mr. Kim’s name into the spotlight here.
The four men are Lee Min-gyo, Choi Seung-min, Lee Myeong-u and Hong Geon-pyo, all of whom disappeared in 1977 and 1978 while swimming at beaches in South Jeolla province. They ranged in age from 16 to 18 when they were abducted.
Members of the Assembly’s intelligence panel who attended the briefing said they were told by Kim Seung-kyu, the intelligence chief, that all five men had worked as tutors for North Korean spies and that three of them are still doing such work.
Assembly members pressed the intelligence chief on how the men could be returned; he replied that the service would ask quietly for their return but would not press to the point of “agitating” the North.
The intelligence service said only two decades after the youths’ disappearances, in 1997, that five high-school students had been seized. It cited reports from defecting North Korean agents. Last week, Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok warned his North Korean interlocutors at a meeting in Pyongyang that Kim Yong-nam’s kidnapping had become an inflammatory issue in South Korea.
Japan, based on DNA tests of Kim Yong-nam’s family, concluded that he was the father of Ms. Yokota’s daughter, who lives in North Korea. Seoul somewhat reluctantly said it would review the Japanese findings, but officials have suggested those findings were almost certainly correct.
Japanese media reported yesterday that Ms. Yokota’s mother is in Washington and is expected to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush today.


by Brian Lee


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