[EDITORIALS]Disgusting treatmentA North Korean defector who served in the South Korean army during the Korean War and his wife reportedly are in the custody of the Chinese government. They have not received any help from our embassy in Beijing. That is shocking if it is true.
We have to ask ourselves seriously why a government and an embassy that cannot protect its prisoners of war should exist.
Jeon Yong-il, 72, who was serving in the 6th division of the South Korean Army when he was captured by the North Koreans in 1953 in Gangwon province, crossed the North Korean border to China. Mr. Jeon reportedly contacted the South Korean Embassy on several occasions and asked for help. According to a group in Seoul that assists North Korean defectors, the embassy irresponsibly told Mr. Jeon and his wife that they should “wait for a week” and later that they “should look after themselves.”
The government explained that it acted the way it did only because it was hard to identify Mr. Jeon. We must harshly denounce the act of the government as extremely insincere. Mr. Jeon’s service number is 0676968, and he was categorized as “killed in action” on August 1953. If the government had made an effort to sort out if the supposedly deceased and Mr. Jeon were the same person, there wouldn’t be much of a problem. Mr. Jeon and his wife were caught by the Chinese while trying to leave for South Korea using false passports because they got no cooperation from the embassy.
Our government has treated abductees similarly in the past. It is truly shameful that instead of bringing back an aged prisoner of war as a hero, it ignored him. With such things happening, can we call South Korea a nation? How could any citizen trust such a government? The South Korean government should show at least half the effort in finding South Korean prisoner of wars in the North that the North Koreans are putting into finding long-term political prisoners in South Korea who support the North.
The government should harshly question those involved and finally bring Mr. Jeon back home.