February 25, 1999 19:20
Woo Yong-kak aged 72, was released Thursday after spending 41 years in prison for espionage on behalf of North Korea. Woo went to the Kwanak 'Gathering House' where he met Lee Jong, 88 who had been released in 1989 also after imprisonment for spying for the North. He expressed his thanks to those in the house and human rights groups who helped him. Woo will move to another 'Gathering House' in Kalhyon-dong with others out of the group of 17 North Korean spies, released on amnesty after a few days rest in Kwanak.
Earlier this morning Choi Sun-mook, 73 (30 years in prison), Ahn Young-ki, 71 (37 years), Jang Byong-lak, 66 (37 years) Kim Ik-jin, 70 (30 years) Kim Eun-hwan, 70 (30 years) and Yang Jong-ho, 69 (30 years) all walked free along with ten lesser jail term servers.
Woo looking relatively healthy said, "I will live with the mind of serving our neighbours and society. There has been no change in my mind in doing my responsibility to advance unification. I have no worries about my family in North Korea." He was met by 8 year old Choi Yeo-rum whose father had corresponded with him during his detention.
A total of 1,508 people were released this morning under a special amnesty granted to commemorate one year in power for the Kim Dae-jung government. Among those freed were 24 who violated the national security law including former Seoul National University professor Koh Young-bok, and Kang Young-ju and Cho Sang-rok members of spy rings in Europe and Japan, respectively.
Some 2,733 recovered their civil rights, 2,693 had fines waived and 1,840 were allowed to take part in business activity from which they had been banned.
(Shim Jae-ryul, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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