[EDITORIALS]A step forward for POWsNorth Korea has said in the 7th Red Cross talks that it will try to confirm the whereabouts of people abducted after the Korean War. Until now, it had limited the discussion to people missing during the war. It is a relief, then, that North Korea is acknowledging the existence of abductees after the war and showing that it intends to solve the issue.
However, Thursday’s agreement was merely a clue to a solution. Up to now, a small minority of war prisoners and abductee families have confirmed the fate of their family members through inter-Korean family reunions. And North Korea held fast to the family reunion method in Thursday’s talks. Abductees and their families have endured decades of pain. One abductee’s 70-year-old mother fainted after she heard it was impossible to confirm whether her son was alive. In one case, the daughter of a POW defected to South Korea with her father’s ashes because he had asked to be buried in his hometown. As these people get older, confirming the fates of the missing is an increasingly urgent matter. It is not something that can be done by pretending to make an effort every so often.
As long as North Korea has acknowledged that it has kidnapping victims, it must produce actual results. We hope the North sees that this is a way it can dramatically boost its image with little effort. What is needed most urgently is an active government effort to persuade the North. A government that treats people who were made prisoners of war, or abducted to the North, with indifference does not qualify to be called a government at all.