Abductee visits father’s grave after 30 years

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Abductee visits father’s grave after 30 years

TONGYEONG, South Gyeongsang ― Kneeling down in front of his father’s grave, Kim Byeong-do, 53, was crying his heart out yesterday. “I am sorry that I could not come and visit your grave for 30 years,” said Mr. Kim as he sobbed.
In 1973, North Korea kidnapped Mr. Kim, a fisherman, in the Yellow Sea. He later escaped from the North to China, and returned to South Korea in July.
Mr. Kim visited his father’s grave with his brother, Byeong-no, 46. The Kims arranged fruits and liquor in front of the grave and bowed. “I never forgot the anniversary of my father’s death while I was in the North,” Mr. Kim said. “I always held small memorial services. Every Chuseok holiday, I imagined myself bowing in front of my father’s grave while I was detained in North Korea.”
Mr. Kim said his father died when he was 12. When he was 16, he began to work as a fisherman to support his family.
“I still remember the time when Byeong-do took me to a tailor and bought me a suit when I entered middle school,” Kim Byeong-no said. “He was like a father.”
At the time of his abduction, Mr. Kim had a newborn daughter. Mr. Kim’s South Korean wife died after he was abducted.
In 1975, the North Korean government forced Mr. Kim to work at a plant that produced electronic components in Hamheung. In 1997, he was moved to a livestock farm. Mr. Kim had married a North Korean woman and had a child.
In April, Mr. Kim was reunited with his mother and brother in Beijing through the efforts of a South Korean activist group. He said he had planned to go back to the North after getting some money from his relatives in South Korea. But after meeting his mother and reading a letter from his South Korean daughter, he changed his mind.
“Because I had family in the North, I was really confused about what I should do,” Mr. Kim said. “But I decided to go to the South after meeting my South Korean relatives.” Mr. Kim recently obtained a resident registration number in the South, and said he was planning to start a new life.


by Kim Sang-jin

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