North Korean husband of German woman is alive
BERLIN, Germany ― The North Korean husband of a German woman, Renate Hong, is alive in North Korea, sources in Germany confirmed yesterday. However, any further details were not forthcoming.
Mrs. Hong, 70, has been waiting for her husband, Hong Ok-geun, for more than 46 years. Her story was reported here last November.
“The North Korean government informed the German Embassy in Pyongyang that it tracked down the whereabouts of Mr. Hong and he is alive,” said a source who declined to be identified. Multiple sources also confirmed that officials at the German Red Cross were also told Mr. Hong is alive.
“My heart is pounding to hear the news that they found my husband and he is still alive. I am so overwhelmed with joy,” Mrs. Hong said in Jena, Germany.
“In most cases, we are not able to reach the person to find out whether he is dead or alive,” said an official at Germany’s Foreign Ministry. “It is very fortunate to confirm Mr. Hong’s existence so fast.”
Still, Mrs. Hong has a long way to go before a reunion with her long-lost husband. “The North Korean government does not seem to be willing to take further action for the reunion of the couple. They think their job is done with the confirmation of Mr. Hong’s existence,” said a source in Germany’s foreign ministry.
According to the source, the ministry plans to ask the North Korean government to offer more detailed information about Mr. Hong, including his address and contact information.
“If it is impossible to see him, I want the government to allow us to exchange letters,” Mrs. Hong said.
Mr. Hong was a student at Jena University, then a part of East Germany, when the couple met in 1955 and later married.
His government ordered him to return home in 1961, and he lost contact with Mrs. Hong and their two sons two years later. Mrs. Hong has remained single.
By Ryu Kwon-ha JoongAng Ilbo firstname.lastname@example.org