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Jun. 25, 1964 - Fates of 7,000 Still Unknow
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2014-01-02 15:25:13  |  Hit 2110

Fourteen years of sorrow, but fates of some 7,000 civilian abductees still unknown
P.3, Chosun Daily, Jun. 25, 1964

Fourteen years have passed since the bloody fratricidal war broke out on June 25, 1950, on the Korean Peninsula. However, there still is no news of our 7,034 (registered) brothers and sisters abducted by North Korea. At the 19th International Red Cross Conference in 1957, 337 civilian abductees were reported to be safe and sound in North Korea based on data provided by the North Korean Red Cross. But now, as we mark another grim anniversary of the Korean War, North Korea still refuses to cooperate, leaving the fates of remaining civilian abductees in question.

The then-Korean Foreign Affairs Minister, Byeon Yeong-tae, initiated discussion on the repatriation of civilian abductees with the International Red Cross at the Geneva Conference in May 1954. The Korean Red Cross attempted to further develop the discussion but to no avail, only to push the bereaved families into oblivion. The number of civilian abductees reported to the Korean Red Cross from June 15 to August 15, 1956 was 8,322, although that figure was revised to 7,034 following the exclusion of overlapping and uncertain reports.

The figures represent only civilian abductees, and excludes those who:1) volunteered for the Volunteer Army, 2) collaborated with the enemy or took pity on them, and 3) defected to North Korea of their own accord.
North Korea announced the fates of some of the civilian abductees at the 19thGeneral Assembly of the International Red Cross in New Delhi. The North reported a list of 337 survivors in November 1957. No news is known about the other abductees. At first, North Korea insisted that it had not abducted any civilians, but itreported a list of 337 surviving civilian abductees on the last day of the international conference.

According to the June edition of Press Office published on June 30, 1960, the number of civilian victims from the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, was 990,996. Of them, 84,532 are assumed to have been kidnapped while the remaining 303,212 are classified as missing. The issue of the repatriation of civilian abductees has lost steam, with even the exact numbers unknown. This article looks into how the government and Red Cross have been dealing with this issue.

North Korean Red Cross announces the fates of only 337 civilian abductees
Fates of other unreported people still unknown

◇ Detailed account of negotiations

▲ Then-Foreign Affairs Minister of Korea Byeon Yeong-tae attended the Geneva International Conference in May, 1954, and discussed the issue of civilian abductee repatriation with representatives of the International Red Cross.

▲ On May 9, 1956, William H. Mitchell and Eugene Dewbic, representatives of the International Red Cross who were then visiting Southeast Asia, came to South Korea and discussed the matter of repatriating civilian abductees with representatives of the Korean Red Cross. The International Red Cross representatives held a preliminary meeting with Korean Red Cross representatives Kim Sin-sil and Kim Ho-jin on May 10. In the meeting, they decided to adopt the following as agenda items for the ICRC General Assembly:1) investigating the fates of civilian abductees; 2) examining the treatment of student prisoners repatriated to India and prisoners sent to Brazil; and 3) accelerating the process of bringing back South Korean soldiers repatriated from North Korea.

▲ At the May 11 plenary session of the International Conference of the Red Cross, in which Son Chang-hwan represented South Korea, the families of civilian abductees were asked to register abducted civilians with the Korean Red Cross.

▲ Since the issue was discussed in the General Assembly of the International Red Cross in New Delhi, India, in 1957, the International Red Cross pushed the Red Cross in North Korea to respond. To this day there has been no response. Further discussion of this issue has been impossible because North Korea refuses to cooperate. In 1957, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that the North abducted 337 civilians, and released a statement calling for their immediate repatriation. According to the South Korean government, North Korea has hinted that it may provide information on other unreported civilian abductees, but has given no clear indication. It also warned that the North may be waiting for the right moment to use civilian abductees as a card in negotiations with the South or as a tool in relations with other foreign powers.

Additionally, the South Korean government stated that the International Red Cross and the UN have the responsibility to take measures to bring back civilian abductees. Meanwhile, the Korean Red Cross released a statement to the families of unreported civilian abductees telling them not to be disappointed. Nevertheless, it has not been able to provide any updates on the abductees since that time. This has forced desperate families to flock to the Korean Red Cross every day.

Of the 7,034 civilian abductees reported, 6,884 were men, 150 were women. The youngest was 18 years old and the oldest 89. By legal domicile and place of abduction, Seoul had the highest number of abductees at 2,199, and Jeju Island the lowest with 23. By occupation, public servants took the largest share at 1,359, while many educators, technicians and journalists were included as well.
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108 Jul.10,1964 - Abductees and their families(3)
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107 Jul.8, 1964 - Abductees and their families(2)
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106 Jul.5, 1964 - Abductees and their families(1)
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105 Jul. 4, 1964 - Efforts will be through UN
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104 Jul. 1, 1964 - Signature-gathering Campaign
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103 Jun. 25, 1964 - 14 Years of Endless Waiting
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102 Jun. 25, 1964 - Fates of 7,000 Still Unknow
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101 Jun. 25, 1964 - Signature-gathering Campaign
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100 Apr.19,1961-Plan for Repatriation of Abductee
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99 Dec.13,1960- Government Negotiates with ICRC
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98 Sept. 20, 1960 - 30 Million Families Demand
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97 Aug.27,1960 - Move Forward to Letter Exchange
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