February 02, 2010 12:56
A group of South Koreans whose family members were abducted by the North on Monday called on the government not to sweep the issue under the carpet again for the sake of an inter-Korean summit. Choi Sung-yong, the head of Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea, complained in a telephone interview with the Chosun Ilbo that President Lee Myung-bak, who in a town-hall meeting in November promised not to hold a summit unless the question of South Korean prisoners of war and abduction victims is on the agenda, seems to have changed his mind.
Families of abduction victims supported the Lee administration when it proposed to take up the issue, which the two previous administrations failed to do, Choi noted. "How can the government abruptly omit the abduction issue and stress only the resolution of the nuclear issue?" he said.
Choi dismissed North Korea's offer of "home visits" for victims for the reason that some of them have families in the North as well as mere political rhetoric. "A genuine resolution of the abduction issue must start by confirming whether the abducted are alive or dead," he said.
Choi also slammed the idea of including abduction victims in brief reunions of families separated by the Korean War. "Over 30 South Koreans kidnapped to the North have participated in the reunions of separated families, but all of them returned to the North after praising the North Korean regime," he said. "The North Korean authorities have kept silent on demands from their families in the South who want to know whether the victims are alive.
The group has been asking about the whereabouts of some 170 people among over 1,000 South Korean POWs and abduction victims formally recognized by the South Korean government. "The North has proposed sending one or two abduction victims and letting them visit their homes," Choi said, but this is not good enough. "The North must stop using the victims as political bargaining chips, and our government must not allow itself to be dragged into the scheme."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com