ICNK demands proof of death of defector’s wife

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ICNK demands proof of death of defector’s wife

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An international human rights group demanded North Korea give more details about its claim that the wife of a double-defector from the South was dead.

The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) submitted a plea to a UN working group demanding details on the reported death of Shin Sook-ja, wife of double-defector Oh Kil-nam, and also information on the whereabouts of the couple’s two daughters.

“The ICNK has submitted the plea to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,” a Foreign Ministry official told the JoongAng Ilbo on Wednesday. “If the plea is once again sent to the North, the regime should reply within 60 days.”

In the second plea, the coalition demanded an official document proving Shin’s death and a meeting between Oh and his two daughters to see if they want to stay in the communist country.

“Even if North Korea doesn’t reply to it, the UN working group has no way to pressure it to do it,” the official said.

On Tuesday, Open Radio for North Korea said North Korea sent a one-page letter in English to the UN working group saying that Shin had died of hepatitis, “which she suffered from since the 1980s,” the letter read. “Second, the two daughters of Ms. Shin do not regard Oh as their father since he abandoned his family and drove their mother to death. They strongly refuse to deal with Oh and asked not to be bothered anymore.

“I wish to underline that the case mentioned in your letter has nothing to do with arbitrary detention,” the letter added.

It was the first time North Korea has officially responded to the case.

Open Radio for North Korea now works as a secretariat for the ICNK.

Oh has been at the forefront of a campaign to find his wife and daughters after fleeing the repressive regime in 1986. The 69-year-old retired economist defected to North Korea with his family in 1985 while studying in West Germany.

Shin and the couple’s two daughters were reportedly being held at a prison camp in North Korea until at least recently.

Kwon Eun-kyoung, manager of Open Radio for North Korea, told the Korea JoongAng Daily that it won’t stop trying to rescue the family.

“If the working group closes the case, we will seek help from other UN organizations or international communities,” Kwon said.

The issue has also brought up other abductions, such as the hijacking of a South Korean airplane by a North Korean spy in 1969.

“We also received a very short reply from the North that they couldn’t verify the whereabouts of the abducted passengers,” Hwang In-cheol, a son of one of the abductees, told the Korea JoongAng Daily. “Another UN working group is also helping us, but we will visit Geneva this fall and raise this issue once again.”
By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr ]

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