Families charge spy in 1969 hijacking

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Families charge spy in 1969 hijacking

Families whose parents or relatives were abducted by a North Korean spy 42 years ago submitted an official complaint to the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office yesterday.

On Feb. 14, 1969, 50 South Korean passengers and crew members were abducted while taking a Korean Air YS-11 domestic flight departing from Gangneung to Gimpo. The spy, named Cho Chang-hee, hijacked the airplane and forced the captain to fly to Pyongyang.

With demands from international communities and South Korea, the North returned 39 passengers a year later through the cross-border village Panmunjom, minus seven other passengers and four crew members.

“Four families of the abductees charged the spy, Cho Chang-hee, although we can’t confirm if he’s still alive or not,” Hwang Il-cheol, whose father was one of the 11 unreturned people, told the Korea JoongAng Daily yesterday. “We charge Cho as the culprit for this unending case.”

“We also desperately hope North Korea can confirm not only whether the 11 people are still alive or not but also return them exactly the same way the 39 people were,” Hwang said.

Among the 11 abductees, only one appeared at a family reunion held on June 26, 2001. She was a flight attendant on the hijacked plane and met her mother.

She said she was married to a North Korean man and had a son and a daughter, and the other flight attendant was fine, living in her neighborhood. Except for those two, there has been no word of the others held in North Korea.

The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has officially requested that the North confirm whether the 11 abductees are still alive. The North is supposed to answer within this month, according to the UN. If they don’t, the group can formally accuse it of being “a nation with serious kidnapping problems” to the UN’s human rights council.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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