NK Agents' Families in South Face Separation



"My son, if you go now, chances are we will never be able to meet again. Please take good care of yourself," cried Koh Bong-hee, 93, on Friday in tears at the thought of losing her son forever. Long-term prisoner and former North Korean spy Shin In-young, 71, is to leave for North Korea on Saturday along with 62 other unconverted former spies and guerrillas. Koh said although she lay down at around 1:00am she could not get any sleep the previous night but remained wide awake until dawn holding her son's hand.


Shin was arrested as a spy sent from the North in 1967 and ever since Koh had visited
her son at the prison for 31 years until 1998. Now just barely after two years of seeing
her son in the open daylight, Koh had to depart with her son again; this time forever. Koh worried that her son was suffering from bone marrow cancer. "Be a good father to your children up there [in North Korea]," Koh requested. Shin was said to have gone to the North as a volunteer solider of the North Korean Army during the Korean War in 1950 and to have had a son and two daughters before he was arrested in the South for being a North Korean agent.


Another soon-to-be separated South Korean wife, Lee Chun-ja, 63, went to the Pukak Park hotel where the returning spies are to spend their last day in Korea on Friday with her two daughers Dong-suk, 27, and Kyoung-suk, 23. Lee cried out loud holding her husband, former guerilla Seok Yong-haw, 76. The couple's elder daughter Dong-suk lamented, "Do you really have to go, father? How are we to live now without you?" Seok disappointed his family by saying, "North Korea is the only place I can live in."


A 63-year-old woman, identified only as Kim, married former agent Hwang Yong-gap, 76, two years ago but was now facing separation. Kim sighed she knew no-one in South Korea and worried whom she could depend on in the future. Hwang was released
from prison in 1989. Kim said that she met Hwang through a friend but knew of his past only last winter.


Han Young-su, 34, came out to the hotel to see off his 83-year-old father, Han Jong-ho. Han said that his mother could not come with him because she could not bare the thought of seeing her husband leave when they had lived together for several decades. Han said that he, too, was emotionally overwhelmed.


(Jang Il-hyun, ihjang@chosun.com)


ihjang@chosun.com / 9 01, 2000 19:19 KST