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Curious about Those Kidnapped to North Korea during the Korean Wartime, Part 1

“Wartime kidnappings to North Korea an ongoing terror.”
Kim Yong Hun, Reporter  |  2007-04-24 20:22
- What is the exact meaning of “the Korea Wartime Abductee”?

The “Korea Wartime Abductee” refers to a person who has been kidnapped to North Korea against his or her wishes and died there or are alive while still being detained in North Korea. Abducted during the Korean War, civilians who were politicians, government officials, scholars, educators, doctors, judicial officials, journalists, religious persons, businessmen, and etc., were detained, despite the leadership of each area in society. Artists, technical persons, students, farmers, and laborers were also kidnapped.

- Why did North Korea abduct civilians?

North Korea kidnapped in order to increase its human capacity for rehabilitation after the war. It recruited intelligentsia that was exhausted within North Korea and kidnapped not only those needed for post-war rehabilitation, but also technical specialists, laborers, and even youth who were needed for war training. Their intention was to drain the intelligentsia of South Korean society, exacerbate societal confusion, and promote communization of South Korea by making postwar rehabilitation difficult due to the shortage of technical specialists and youth.

They also had the intention to guise the abductions as voluntary entry for the advancement of their political system. North Korea’s insistence, to this day, of there not being a single abductee but just ones who came of their accord shows this intention.

- Why is the movement to check whether or not abductees are alive only recent?

▲ Directly after the war, one million petition movement to repatriate the kidnappees unfolded.
Since the late 1950s, when North Korea sent wartime abductees to the South as military agents, South Korea applied the guilt-by-association system to the family members until the beginning of 1990s. As a result, the family members were degraded to objects of inspection and it became difficult for family committees that were formed during the war to further act. Also, after the war, dialogue between the North and South became difficult due to the worsening of conflict in ideologies and North Korea rejected from start to finish the reality of the abductions.

Since the Kim Dae Jung administration, from year 2000 until now, there were a countless number of North-South talks for reconciliation with the North and we continued the colossal economic support of Kim Jung Il, who kidnapped our families, with the taxes that we paid.

At the time, the administration used the term “480 Abductees” for the post-war abductees and did not even acknowledge the existence of kidnapped people.

- “Wartime kidnappings an ongoing terror”

In North Korea, around three million North Korean civilians died due to a severe food shortage in 1997. This was seen as an opportunity to know about the families’ news by discussing the abductee problem with the condition of support during this time for the economically impoverished North or, in other words, when economic support was of utmost necessity to Kim Jong Il. In the midst of this situation, we have been informing the administration of the existence of kidnapped people and have been raising our voices to spread the news since year 2000.

- What is the difference between war abductions and costs of war?

Systematically sorting out civilians during the war and kidnapping them is a war crime and because we do not know whether or not the kidnapped families are still alive, this is an ongoing terror.

During a war, an uncertain number of civilians accidentally do die or become injured. Because war is a special situation, such damage is seen as uncontrollable.

But in the case of wartime abductions, North Korea diligently planned and methodically sorted necessary civilians during the war or vested them onto the battlefield. When selecting, they used a variety of deceptions and tracked down until the end hiding civilians, forcibly abducting them.

North Korea’s Kim Il Sung and the Chosun (North Korean) Workers’ Party try to hide their crime under the specially confusing nature of war, but the events of wartime kidnappings are a definite war crime. Additionally, even though these criminal actions occurred in the past, North Korea has not yet revealed whether or not the kidnapped people are alive.

- Is there material proof that North Korea systematically kidnapped South Korean civilians?

In the Complete Works of Kim Il Sung, Volume IV, dated July 31, 1946, it is written, “In regards to bringing Southern Chosun’s intelligentsia, not only do we need to search out all of Northern Chosun’s intelligentsia in order to solve the issue of a shortage of intelligentsia, but we also have to bring Southern Chosun’s intelligentsia.”

▲ Kim Il Sung’s teaching papers testifying to the reality of North Korea’s abductions (left), Russia’s official document (right).
After giving this instruction, North Korea created a list of recipients and brought a large sum of money to the South during the time when the currency that North Korea confiscated was popularized in South Korea; they approached the recipients and tried to cajole them, but most of the intended recipients knew about North Korea’s real situation through people who had come to the South and rejected these offers.

Further, it was written in Russia’s classified document, “The Items of Settlement of the Northern Chosun’s Military Committee Number 18” dated July 17th, 1950, that “in order to resolve the difficult food situation in Seoul, the military committee has decided the following. Seoul Temporary Civilian Committee Chair, according to each division and office’s demand, will evacuate 500,000 people to Northern Chosun’s agricultural and business field sites.” (continued)
 
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