2 stars escape, 2-way politician killed, 2 Koreas confusedJuly 30, 1977
A star couple was born in 1976, when Paik Kun-woo, a promising 30-year-old pianist, tied the knot with Yoon Jung-hee, an actress. Exchanging nuptial vows in the acclaimed painter Ungno Lee’s Paris home, the couple set up their home in the City of Lights. Enjoying a happy marriage, the couple paid particular courtesy to the Lee family. No wonder Mr. Paik offered to perform for Park In-gyeong, the wife of the painter Mr. Lee, in Zurich, Switzerland in July 1977.
Ms. Park allegedly told Mr. Paik that a man of wealth in Zurich yearned to hear him play. The couple willingly traveled to Zurich, only to find a secretary telling them of a change of schedule. The secretary handed over plane tickets to Zagreb, now the capital of Croatia but under communist influence in 1977. The couple felt something was awry but they had no choice but to fly to Zagreb. Led to a villa in the suburbs, the couple sensed something fishy especially after watching several people with North Korean accents. The couple fled from the villa on the sly and took a taxi to the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb on this date. There they fully understood the North Korean kidnapping scheme. Lee Jeong-ryong, a North Korean agent, reportedly instigated Ms. Park, the painter’s wife.
July 31, 1959
Cho Bong-am, a politician with an eventful career on both the left and right wings, was executed at age 61 on this date for breaking the National Security Law. First tinkering with politics in 1919, Mr. Cho played an active part in the independent movement against Japanese colonial rule. Mr. Cho also was infatuated with communism, going over to Moscow and Shanghai. Blacklisted by the Japanese colonial government, Mr. Cho served seven years in their prison, finally released in August 1945 when Japan surrendered in World War II. Mr. Cho joined Communist parties until he took a radical right turn in 1946. After the Korean War ended in 1953, Mr. Cho held key positions in the South’s government. In 1952 and 1956, he even ran for president against Syngman Rhee, defeated by a shade. In 1956, he formed the Jinbo (Progress) Party which pegged him as a communist sympathizer, in violation of National Security Law. “Give me a glass of wine” were Mr. Cho’s last words.
July 31, 1994
Mr. and Mrs. Paik, who escaped the North’s abduction plan, were on the lucky side compared to Go Sang-mun. Mr. Go, an average high school teacher, was abducted by the North in Norway. Far from active in politics, Mr. Go went to the Netherlands to study geography. In 1979, he traveled to Oslo, Norway, to study Norway’s unique geography. When he realized he had lost his passport, he jumped in a taxi for the South Korean Embassy. The driver, however, misunderstood Mr. Go and took him to the North’s Embassy, where he was taken into custody and soon sent to North Korea. Years passed. On this date, Amnesty International announced that Mr. Go was alive in North Korea. In 2001, Mr. Go, allegedly in jail as a political prisoner, appeared on a North Korean TV show saying he was happy to be there. Mr. Go’s family in the South denied his every word, insisting Mr. Go must have been forced to speak well of the North.
by Chun Su-jin