Feb.24,2010 - After 60 years, tears ran dry
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2014-01-14 10:22:49  |  Hit 979
The government brushes away tears of the abductees’ families after 60 years

Dong-A Daily
Feb. 24, 2010

“Although the Korean War abductions are the most painful event in contemporary Korean history, it has been erased from the history books as if it never happened. Now we have an opportunity to resolve the long-forgotten issue of the abductees and comfort their deep sorrow.”

In a phone interview on the 23rd, the voice of KWAFU President Ms. Lee Mi-il (60) trembled with anticipation.

On the same day, the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Standing Committee held a plenary session and voted to pass the Act on Investigating Abductions by North Korea during the Korean War and Restoring Honor to the Victims.

This Act will go through the Legislation and Judiciary Committee and is likely to pass in the main session in April. It has been a year since National Assembly members Kim Moo-sung and Park Sun-young introduced this bill in December 2008 and January last year, respectively.

The bill was welcomed by the public when it was first introduced by Kim. 88 other Assembly members- both conservatives and liberals- put their names on it, giving a boost to Kim. With time, however, people grew indifferent. For more than a year, it had stalled in the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Standing Committee, as it was not considered a “hot issue”.

The indifference of the government was worse. Not a single administration in contemporary Korean history officially mentioned the issue of Korean War abductees. With desperation, the abductees’ families sought their own way to resolve the issue.

They founded KWAFU in 2000 to make the issue known to the public. However, the Ministry of Unification responded that there was no way to address the issue, even though it acknowledged that the North Korean abductions had occurred during the war.

The abductees’ families grew old while the government maintained a lukewarm attitude.
The abductees who worked for their country, not to mention the other abductees, had been ignored by their own country.

The father of Lee Gyeong-chan (70), KWAFU Board of Directors Member, was a chief prosecutor in the Seoul District Prosecutor’s Office in 1950, and the father of Choe Gwang-seok (67), KWAFU Operation Committee Member, worked as a police officer at the time of his abduction. Their honor was forgotten and their families suffered.

The Ministry of Unification, once again, did not mention the abductees’ issue in the work report for this year. But there is a hope. Recently the Ministry promised KWAFU to make the abductees’ issue an agenda item for the North-South summit meeting.

The Act voted for recently ensures the Secretariat for the National Committee on Investigating Abductions by North Korea during the Korean War and Restoring Honor of the Victims to be established under Prime Minister and projects to commemorate the victims of abduction to be carried out. However, it does not specify individual compensation for the abductees’ families.

“We don’t want compensation. What we want is the abduction to be recorded in the history books as it occurred. We want it to be remembered, and also want to know the fate of the abductees and see the repatriation of deceased abductees’ remains. This is what the government must do to put an end to the ongoing war,” said KWAFU President Lee Mi-il.
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