Much Effort to put on the ‘4+1 Acts’

[imText1]The Grand National Party (GNP) declared that it will put much effort in adoption of the acts on South Korean abductees in North Korea, North Korean defectors, and North Korean human rights at the coming regular session of the National Assembly.

At the “Public Hearing relating to the Adoption of the Special Act on Assistance of the Abductees in North Korea” held on September 8, 10am, hosted by assemblyman Kim Moon Su, Park Geun Hye, the chairwoman of the Grand National Party, said, “the Grand National Party has decided to set the party view on the pass of the 4+1 acts in the regular session of the National Assembly, and the act on abductees in North Korea is one of them.”

“I discussed about solving this problem (of the abductees) in the meeting with President Roh,” said Park.

“4+1 Acts” stand for four acts on defectors, POWs, abductees in North Korea, and North Korean human rights and the plus 1 stands for an act for facilitation of reunion of dispersed family members.

Park said, “The biggest problem is that while verification of life of the abductees and the possibility of their return is in question, since they are aging, there is not much time left. We will try our best to pass the acts in the coming regular session of the National Assembly.”

4 + 1 Acts

In the public hearing, Yoo Ho Yeol of Korea University, Koh Kyung Bin, Secretary of Social and Culture of the Ministry of Unification, Suh Bo Hyuk of the National Human Rights Commission, Choi Sung Yong, Representative of Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea, Lee Seong Ui, Director of Korean War Abductee’s Family Union and many other scholars and experts on North Korea, government officials together examined the three acts currently pending in the National Assembly.

Professor Yoo said, “the three acts are unique in subject and objective while complementing each other. It is necessary to put them together and revise them.” His suggestion for an alternative act was, “The Act for Solution to the Problem of the Abductees and Assistance of the Victims” putting the three into one.

He further pointed out, “The according departments must have the unification, and the branch of the National Assembly too must have all the related offices to belong to one body, the Unification, Foreign Affairs & Trade Committee.

Currently the act submitted by assemblyman Kim Mun Soo is held pending in the the Unification, Foreign Affairs & Trade Committee and the other two submitted by assemblymen Choi Byung Kook and Chon Yeo Yok at the Government Administration & Home Affairs Committee(belongs to Government Administration & Home Affairs).

Professor Yoo said, “Every time abductees are returned to South Korea, I search the list of the names are reported on the North Korea White Paper. Koh Myung Seop, who recently returned was also included there. The names of the returnees are so clearly reported like this, but the government and media are still ignoring them, and I as a scholar, I cannot help feeling ashamed of it.”

The Ministry of Unification and Human Rights Commission Feel Keenly of the Need of the Acts

Koh Kyung Bin of the Ministry of Unification said, “looking at only the results of the returnees, there is much the government must reflect back (and self-examine) and about the recent acts, we feel keenly of the necessity. As the results of the recent Red Cross talks, please understand (remember) that the government is constantly working on the abductees issue.”
Suh Bo Hyuk of the National Human Rights Commission said, “I regret that the commission is not meeting the people’s expectations on defectors, abductees and North Korean human rights since the beginning.”

“Regarding the abductees issue, the commission suggested draft of a special act in the government and National Assembly. Although the content of the act only includes compensating the victims, regaining the impaired reputation, so there is limits but we will pay more attention in the future.”

In the hearing session, Koh Myung Seop, an abductee and former fisherman who recently returned to South Korea in thirty years, attended and shared his life story which titled “from abduction to defection.” Koh who stepped on his homeland on July 12, has not fully recovered his health.

In his speech, Koh said, “I felt despondent when I found out that my status at returned home was worse than that of North Korean defectors. Who can compensate the thirty years I lost, victimized in this reality of division.”

It has been reported the number of those forcefully taken to North Korea during the Korean War reach up to 84,532 (South Korean statistics, 1953) and 486 after the Korean War (Ministry of Unification, 2004). With the return of Koh, the number of abductees decreased by one, to 485.