Two sides of kidnapping and Park Chung Hee

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Two sides of kidnapping and Park Chung Hee

Sept. 12, 1993
On this date, a former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Seoul station gave congressional testimony indicating the South Korean government was behind one of the most notorious abductions of the 1970s.
Donald Gregg, then station chief of the CIA, said the Korean government was at the core of an abduction of the now-former President Kim Dae-jung when he was an opposition leader.
Mr. Gregg’s testimony seemed to be correct in that Mr. Kim was hated by President Park’s administration. But the case still remains dubious as no one is sure what actually happened during the long dictatorial administration of Park Chung Hee.
Then an opposition leader, Mr. Kim was in Japan giving speeches and holding secret meetings criticizing President Park Chung Hee and his dictatorial administration.
He was abducted by a mysterious group of people, blindfolded, beaten and stifled with a chloroform-soaked cloth.
Stories then began to circulate about who might have been behind the kidnapping. Some said it was obvious that then President Park must have ordered his men to get Mr. Kim ― and even kill him ― in order to quieten down his criticism. Testimony from the time says that President Park was very angry with Mr. Kim's actions overseas.
Some say it was not the president but the head of South Korea's Agency for National Security Planning, or the Korean CIA, that solely planned the entire incident to shut Mr. Kim up. (Among government officials, Mr. Kim was referred as a ‘worshipper of the developed nation’ for embarrassing his country from abroad). Another statement says that President Park reacted with surprise and was heard cursing the Korean CIA under his breath for being involved in something they should not have been.
Mr. Kim was thrown into a vehicle then transferred onto a ship. He later said he started praying hard after he heard he was about to be thrown into the waters of the East Sea. However, this did not come to pass and he was later freed. When he opened his eyes, he was in front of his doorstep in Korea.
Mr. Gregg, also a former ambassador to South Korea, said then ambassador Phillip Habib was informed by Japanese officials that Mr. Kim had been abducted. Mr. Habib then visited President Park and asked him to release Mr. Kim.
Soon after the president heard from the U.S. ambassador, the kidnappers let Mr. Kim go immediately, Mr. Gregg said in an interview he held with a Korean newspaper a few years ago.

Sept. 15, 1978
Out of many mysterious abduction stories that occurred during the former President Park Chung Hee administration in the 1960s and 1970s, one story has a touching ending to it.
The president of South Korea actually made a plea to a kidnapper who was holding a third grade girl hostage. The man involved later released the girl without any injury.
The story started on this date when a girl named Jung Hyo-ju was kidnapped while returning home from school. Mae Seok-hwan, the kidnapper, held her hostage for 33 days, asking for ransom money from her father, a company head.
The girl was freed but was kidnapped again 178 days later. The differences were the identity of her abductor and the timing of the incident ― on her way to school in the morning.
The kidnapper demanded a 150 million won ($150,000) ransom. Hearing the strange news that the same girl had been kidnapped again, civic groups released statements asking the kidnapper to have a heart. Four days later, on April 18, 1979, President Park announced on television that if the kidnapper let her go safely, he would be given as much leniency as possible. That very night, the girl showed up at a police precinct in Ulsan, alive and safe. The kidnapper served 20 years in jail.


by Lee Min-a

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