A fisherman who was abducted by North Korea in August 1975 has escaped the communist country 33 years after the abduction. A report on Sunday said that Yun Jong-su (66) fled the North but arrived in China without his wife (67) and only daughter (25), who were arrested by North Korean authorities.
Yun is one of 31 absucted fishermen in a photograph published in the Chosun Ilbo last month. He was sent to a farming machine workshop in Kaechon, South Pyongan Province, where he worked from June 1976 until 2002. He crossed the Duman (or Tumen) River alone early last month and arrived at a Korean consulate in China on May 20. Out of 33 fishermen aboard the fishing boat Cheonwang, Yun is the fourth to make it home. Koh Myung-sup (64) returned in 2005 and Choi Uk-il and Lee Han-seop in 2007. In addition, Yun is the eighth of all fishermen kidnapped during the North's bizarre abduction campaign in the 1970s and 80s who safely returned home.
In an interview with the Chosun Ilbo in a Chinese town last month, Yun was in tears throughout. He parted with his Korean-Japanese wife, whom he married in North Korea, in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province just before crossing the river. The two left their home in Kaechon on May 1 and arrived in Hyesan three days later, only to find that they were already on the police's wanted list. "It made me worry about the safety of our daughter, who we had left behind to follow us later because we were afraid that it would seem suspicious if the whole family disappeared together," he says. Worried about their daughter, his wife gave up crossing the river and let him go alone.
In the evening of May 5, Yun left Hyesan and, after walking through rugged mountains for seven hours arrived at the Duman River early the next morning. The river was only some 10 m wide but the water current was so swift that it bore him some 30 m down the river before he touched ground. That was six days after he left his home in Kaechon.
But his relief did not last long, overtaken by fears for the safety of his wife and daughter. Choi Sung-yong, president of the Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea, and Yun's family in the South are to hold a press conference on Monday to urge the government to work to bring Yun's family, who have since been arrested, to the South.