N.K. Should Avoid Provocation and Repatriate Kim

      December 14, 2004 22:18

      It has been confirmed that Pastor Kim Dong-shik, who went missing in China four years ago while assisting North Korean defectors, was abducted by North Korean agents. The truth was only finally unraveled when an ethnic Korean-Chinese 'mole' operating under the auspices of the North's State Security Agency slipped into the South and was apprehended by prosecutors.

      With this latest misdeed, the North Korean regime has shown the true regard in which it holds the Republic of Korea. The leadership seemed fully cognizant of the fact that the Seoul government would not protest even in circumstances where it recognizes that its own citizens have been kidnapped.

      Without this firm conviction, Pyongyang would have been unlikely to commit such an atrocity. Furthermore, the abduction occurred as secret negotiations were being initiated for a North-South Korean summit in January. Behind the facade of reform and inter-Korean reconciliation, the Northern regime was shamelessly sticking to its Cold War methods of kidnap and subterfuge.

      Speculation that the pastor had been dragged into the North against his will arose almost immediately after he disappeared. Two years ago, a civic organization urged the government to try to repatriate Kim, presenting details on what they suspected had taken place.

      The government has responded with neither enthusiasm nor sincerity in confirming the allegations. On the other hand, if it was sincere in making efforts to examine the truth of the case, it is difficult to come up with any other verdict than incompetence for the way the issue has been handled. That's not all. In subsequent inter-Korean meetings the government has avoided raising the issue of Pastor Kim, resulting in an apparent lack of interest in having one of its citizens' rights and safety ruthlessly trampled on.

      Adding to our collective sense of frustration, we have observed the Japanese government's vocal demand for the repatriation of Japanese abductees and been forced to concede that - to a greater or lesser degree - the North Korean regime's kidnappings can be fully resolved provided that the government has a strong enough will to do so.

      And all this in spite of the fact that we provide more aid to the North than our Japanese neighbor, in both quality and quantity, while Pyongyang repeatedly claims that the sides are "the same nation."

      The North Korean regime should realize that it will find no seat in the international community unless it liquidates its primitive policy of abducting civilians. The North should immediately release Pastor Kim without issuing any other comments beyond a formal apology. The Korean government should not tolerate such state crimes any longer and instead mull over the names of other South Korean abductees who are yet to return home.
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