Jun. 9, 2012 - He told me to wait a little
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2014-01-16 11:57:28  |  Hit 1233

“It tears me apart seeing a picture of my father here with North Korea just a stone’s throw away.”

Jun. 9, 2012
Joongang Daily

“He told me to wait...he’d be right back”

Kim Ji-hye wipes away tears with a cloth as she stands on the Odusan Unification Viewing Point in Paju, Gyeonggi province. An abductee photo exhibition opened on the 5th here displaying the pictures of 88 famous South Koreans who were abducted during the Korea War by North Korea. The photos also show the history of the movement to repatriate them. There have been several instances where photo exhibitions concerning the Korean War have taken place at viewing points like this in the past, but this is the first time one has tackled the abductee issue.

Kim’s father was abducted by North Korea during the Korean War. A lawyer, he was unable to flee the invading forces because he had to take care of his sick mother. He was staying at a relative’s house in Seoul, but after returning home briefly he was surrounded by local youths wearing red armbands along with North Korean soldiers.

They criticized him for hiding out and not coming in for a “simple interrogation.” Then they took him away somewhere. As they took him away, he waved back at his daughter and told her he would return soon. This all happened on July 8, 1950. The younger Kim was just nine years old at the time. Over 62 years later, she has now become an elderly woman in her 70s.

After his abduction, Kim tried all she could to find her father but was unable to discover his whereabouts. “My father’s life was so unfortunate,” she says. “I shudder when I think how he survived in such a horrible place like North Korea.” She remembers her father as a very generous man.

“One day my mother asked me to go buy some tofu. As I returned home, I fell and hurt myself. When my father saw this, he scolded my mother for telling me, a young child, to go out on such an errand.”
“I’ve yearned for my father for the past 60 or so years,” she says. “I just want to know if he is alive or dead.”

There are some 100,000 people who were abducted by North Korea during the Korean War, according to a resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December last year calling for the repatriation of abductees from the Korean War.

North Korea has denied that any such abductionshave occurred, calling the abduction charges the “fabrication of confrontational crazies and a plot against Republic.” This is the reason why KWAFU is holding a photo exhibition on the abductee issue at the Unification Observatory, which offers a view of North Korea. “The Korean War has not ended for abductee families,” says Lee Mi-il, the president of KWAFU. “We have prepared this exhibition to raise awareness about the issue to the general public.”

Due to its close proximity to Seoul, Odusan Unification Observatory attracts more than 2000 visitors a day. Veterans Day attracts the largest number of visitors and KWAFU estimates that over 10,000 people have viewed the exhibition in the four days since it began.

Interestingly, some 30% of these visitors are from abroad. “I had no idea that there were so many abductees from South Korea,” said Dan Domoko, who travelled from Hukuoka, Japan, with his eight friends. “Why doesn’t the Korean government demand that North Korea return them, just as Japan has done?” Yu Ho Gyung, who came along with her 11 year-old son, said, “I realized that we are still suffering from the war. [North Korea] should at least tell the families what happened to their abducted loved ones.”
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