[EDITORIALS]Utter nonsenseKim Young-nam, who was widely believed to have been kidnapped by North Korean agents, and was reunited with his mother in the South Wednesday, 28 years later, claimed in a press conference yesterday that he had not been abducted. “I got on a boat at the beach and it floated boundlessly on the ocean, leading to a rescue by a North Korean ship,” he said. What nonsense!
His kidnapping is a fact, confirmed by a spy who had been involved in the operation and was arrested in the South after being dispatched here on a mission. Abducting a 17-year-old student and dragooning him as a trainer for North Korean spies is an abominable felony. But the North Korean regime has been pretending it knows nothing about it. The North Korean government’s moral bankruptcy in forcing an abductee to come up with excuses that do not make any sense is enough to prompt the Korean public’s wrath. Until when will this regime and its deception continue to exist in the world?
The South Korean government cannot deny its partial responsibility. This administration has refused to raise any questions about abductees in North Korea on the grounds that it may hurt inter-Korean relations. The administration has even made the odd argument that angering the North may bring on war. When the Japanese government disclosed that Mr. Kim was the husband of Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped from Japan, the administration hesitated before responding. The South Korean government insisted the issue was not to be dealt with politically, but should be based on a “humanitarian spirit.” That is at least partly right ― but nothing happened after that.
What Mr. Kim said at the press conference clearly shows how difficult a task it will be to resolve the North Korean kidnapping issue. But the administration did back the long-held desire of his 80-year-old mother to see Mr. Kim again. It would have been difficult not to, and many South Koreans welcomed Pyongyang’s decision to allow mother and son to meet again.
Even so, it is not right to let the North take advantage of the reunion as a propaganda vehicle for its regime. A South Korean citizen who was undoubtedly kidnapped spewed nonsense yesterday, muddying the waters of the entire question of kidnappings.
The South Korean government should accept its responsibility, demand that the North apologize for the abduction and find a neutral venue off the Korean Peninsula to put the question to the abductees as to whether they want to return here or not.