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Lee Gyu-chan
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2013-12-26 16:05:55  |  Hit 1935
Files : Lee Gyu-chan.docx  

Abductee: Lee Gyu-chan
Recorded Date: Nov. 8th, 2005

Profile of Abductee

Name: Lee Gyu-chan
Date of Birth: December 9, 1925
Place of Birth: Anseong, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Last Address: Sinseol-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Date of Abduction: August, 1950
Place of Abduction: Home
Occupation: University Student / Head of the Student National Defense Corps
Education/Career: Senior student in Dong Kuk University
Dependents: Wife, 2 Daughters
Appearance/Personality: Active, Fond of Drinking (nickname: Anseong raw rice wine)

Profile of Testifier

Name: Yoo Un-ji (born in 1924)
Relation: Wife
Type of Witness: Indirect witness
Summary of the Abduction

- He was a senior student majored in history in Dong Kuk University.
- He was a leader of a patriotic association and right after the Korean War broke out, he hid himself in his hometown in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province.
- On around August, he went back to Seoul with neighboring refugees in order to check the situation, and he also visited his school to see the condition of school but he was taken by the North at the school.
- No more news about him was given, after he was taken by two soldiers of the Communist Army.
- His younger brother Lee Gyu-seon was also drafted to the So-called Volunteer Army in Uijeongbu.

Description of abduction

Q. Could you please describe the situations when the Korean War broke out?

The Korean War broke out while I was living with the in-laws. During the Japanese colonial rule, my husband dropped out of high school in order to avoid being drafted to join the Japanese Army. After the Independence, he continued his education.
At the outbreak of the Korean War, he was studying history in Dong Kuk University. At that time, he was the head of the Student National Defense Corps and often led street parades. I once saw him conducting a parade at the forefront, with a baton in his hand. He was a self-supporting student and lived on his own in Sinseol-dong. I lived with him in Seoul from January to May 1950. And then, we heard that my father-in-law fell sick. I went to see in-laws in Anseong with my baby.
It turned out that my father-in-law, who was a farmer, was too ill to plant rice. Since we were in short of hands there, I had to stay for a while with the in-laws and help them with farming and taking care of my sick father-in-law. And when my husband and I were apart like that, the Korean War broke out.
There was no telephone in the countryside back then, so the only source of information we had access to was the stories of people from the town market. We heard that a war broke out and the North Korean Army passed the Mia-ri Ridge and marched into the center of Seoul.
On hearing this news, I tried to go back to Seoul with my newly-born baby but my in-laws held me back. Soon, my husband contacted us from his friend's house in Yeongdeungpo where he and our daughter went to hide. They stayed there for a night, and on the next morning found out that Seoul had fallen into the hands of the invaders. He directly headed for Anseong on walk with our daughter on his back and arrived at his parents’ house in a couple of days.
Days passed, and some people started to head back to Seoul. My husband also tried to go back to Seoul, but my in-laws and I persuaded him not to since it seemed still dangerous. I also told him it was obvious that schools were closed. In August, he heard that some of his acquaintances were going back to Seoul and decided to join them. At that time, leftists of the town kept on knocking at our door and made us feel very uncomfortable. My in-laws and I still thought it was too dangerous, but he said that he would come back to Anseong as soon as he found out what was happening in Seoul.

Q. Please describe the situation how your husband was abducted.

My husband left for Seoul, with food just enough for three days. He did not even pack spare clothes. Days passed, yet he did not return home. My father-in-law, worried whether something had happened to his son, headed for Seoul as well. "Did you see him?" I asked on his return. He answered, "Yes, he is fine. He is living under the mountain." "What mountain?" I asked back, but he vaguely said, "You know, he is somewhere around Namsan (Nam Mountain)." Later, I found out that my father-in-law actually could not meet my husband, but lied to me, because he did not want me to panic.

I could not believe his words, so I made up my mind to go to Seoul with my children. We almost died on our way to Seoul due to air raids. On arriving Seoul, I went to his lodging in Sinseol-dong and also to his university. No one was there. In the lodging, I found a bundle of clothes and a note from my husband. He wrote that he shouldn't have returned to Seoul in the first place. At a corner of the note, he wrote "Will we be able to see each other again?" He disappeared like that, leaving a single piece of note for me.

I asked the neighboring old lady what had happened to my husband. She told me about the day she last saw my husband. The day before his abduction, my husband told her that he was going to stay for the night and head back home. Then, he started to pack my clothes and children's clothes. "Why aren't you packing your suits?" she asked. "My wife doesn’t usually buy clothes for herself. I can get new ones for myself later." he answered back. The next morning, he told her that he would go for a walk to his school. He left the house after breakfast and did not return for lunch.

Later in the afternoon, he came back, held by two North Korean soldiers who were armed with guns that were longer than the height of the old lady. The soldiers shouted at my husband to hurry up, as he went into his lodging to gather his belongings. Before leaving, my husband told the lady that I would come in search for him if he did not return. "Please take care of my wife when she arrives and tell her to go back to the countryside. This is no place for her. Now I have to go with them." It was his last words.

He seemed to have returned home to leave me a letter. My husband started to shed tears and hugged the lady, saying that he would repay her kindness if he came back alive. I was surprised, because he usually did not even hold her hands before. The soldiers again demanded him to come out and he left the house, dragged by one soldier in his front and the other by his back. He was dragged to Cheongnyangni and from then on, I could not hear any word from or about him.

My brother-in-law, Lee Gyu-seon, who came to Anseong from his high school in Uijeongbu to hide, was also abducted. He was drafted into the North Korea’s People’s Army along with eight other townsmen when the town was occupied by the North Korean Army. Only two of them managed to survive and return home. Gyu-seon was not one of them.

Q. Did you make any effort to find your husband back?

When I returned to my in-laws in Anseong, those who did not even know what had happened to my husband listed him as a missing person. Some people even said that he voluntarily joined the Communists. Their assumptions were entirely groundless. My husband had no reason to follow the Communists because my in-laws were relatively wealthy and influential in the town.

After my husband was abducted, I helped my in-laws with farming for five years in Anseong. Then, I returned to Seoul to find a job to support my children with their education. I went from one market to another to find work, but there were not many things a poor woman with no skills could do. I was relatively good at sewing, so I asked sewers in a market around Donam-dong whether they could hire me as an apprentice.
When I earned enough money to support my children on my own, I brought them back to Seoul from Anseong. I managed to send them all to school with the money I earned as a sewer. I wanted to find my husband, so I submitted his name and personal information to the Korea National Red Cross and the Ministry of Unification.

However, no practical measures were made. I even wrangled with the guards at Central Government Complex, as I went to see the Minister to complain about the matter. Whenever I think of my husband, my heart fills up with sorrow and pain. I always prayed for our reunion, but now I think it is time for me to let go of him. He was the one who left me here all alone…

Reason behind the Abduction

Q. Why do you think he was abducted?
He was a leader of a patriotic association and sometimes he led a street march of the association, so the leftists could have classified him as a reactionary.

News after the Abduction

Q. Have you heard any news about him?
No, never.
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