Data CenterKorean War Abduction

Korean War Abduction

Efforts of Solving

Why The Abductees' Issue Needs To Be Solved

1) Families who have been separated by abduction are still living under the pain of not knowing whether their abducted family members are alive or not.

2) Nothing should be more important to a country's government than the responsibility of protecting its citizens enshrined in the constitution.

3) Recovering South Korea's Modern History

Most of the wartime abductees played important roles in establishing South Korea. When they return, the establishment of South Korea will be complete.

4) Genuine North-South Reconciliation and Reunification

The North Korean government has never admitted to the fact it committed wartime abductions. Only when the North has admitted to the abductions can progress be made towards North-South reconciliation and reunification.

5) Ending Criminal Acts of Abduction

North Korea's acts of abduction are crimes against humanity that began during the Kim Il Sung era. These acts continued to the era of his son Kim Jong-Il and even included the abduction of foreign civilians. These acts of abduction all originate from the period when countries that suffered abductions and the international community did not punish and hold responsible North Korea for its first abduction campaign against civilians during the Korean War. The North continues to abduct civilians when it deems necessary. This continuing campaign of abductions must stop. For this to happen, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Romania and other nations that suffered abductions, along with the international community, must band together to hold the North Korean government responsible and force it to admit to, apologized for, and resolve cases of abduction.

Efforts To Bring About Abductee Repatriations

1) Efforts by the UN during Armistice Negotiations

The U.S., which was in charge of the UN coalition, was well aware of abductions of South Korean citizens by North Korea and attempted to exchange abducted South Korean citizens with communist POWs held by the UN on a one-to-one basis. However, the U.S. failed to use the term "abduction" during the negotiations due to North Korea's strong opposition and the political need to quickly bring about a stop to the war. Ultimately, the abductees were termed "displaced civilians" and were not repatriated.

2) Efforts by the South Korean Government

- The National Assembly: Established a committee aimed at repatriating abducted civilians in 1953 and sent a resolution it adopted to the UN. It also called on the government to take a proactive measures such as creating lists of abductees.

- Government Agencies: After Seoul was returned to friendly forces and up until the mid-1950s, the government stated on numerous occasions that the abducted civilians should be released unconditionally. A list of wartime abductees was created three times after the war. Efforts were made to increase support for repatriations on the international stage when the foreign ministry gathered representatives from all parts of the government to hold a conference on the abductee issue right after the war.
However, when North Korea began using well-known abductees in its propaganda and began sending young abductees down to South Korea as spies, the family members of the abductees in South Korea began to face discrimination because of their abducted relatives. The one million signature campaign for repatriating abductees began by the Chosun Ilbo on July 1, 1964, was signed on its first day by President Park Chung Hee. Later, right before the signatures were sent to the UN, President Park sent the newspaper a letter of thanks, saying the signatures represented the hopes of the entire country. However, when the South Korean petition was not accepted in the UN, President Park focused his time and energy on economic development instead.

3) Efforts by the Red Cross

The South Korean Red Cross collected reports on 7,034 abductees from their families during a two-month period from June 1956. These reports were then used to obtain information on 337 abductees in 1957, a development that has come to be the only success in the abductee issue.
The use of the term "displaced civilians" allowed the North to inquire about the whereabouts of those civilians who had lived in the North but had later moved South of their own free volition.

4) Efforts by the First Family Union

Officially established in 1951, the 6.25 Incident Abductee Family Association continued to work for the rescue of abductees until 1960, but financial difficulties, national disinterest towards the issue, and persecution for being associated with the abductees made it difficult to continue the fight.

- Activities in South Korea: in October 1950 the family union sent a rescue team to Pyongyang to rescue abductees; created lists of abductees; submitted petitions to the national assembly; requested assistance on multiple occasions from UN military representatives participating in the armistice negotiations; and staged rallies of thousands of family members of the abductees at Deoksu Palace (August 1953 and March 1954).

- Overseas: Made successive requests for assistance from the UN and International Red Cross

5) Efforts by the Media

From the start of the Korean war up until the 1960s the South Korean media reported on the wartime abductee issue on numerous occasions.

Noteworthy Publications

Donga Ilbo: Published seven editorials on the issue from 1953 to 1957
From March 29 to June 1962 the newspaper published a 56-part series entitled "The Time of Death," which detailed the experiences in North Korea of a former abductee

Chosun Ilbo: Published 22 editorials concerning issue from 1952 to 1964
Organized a one million signature campaign for repatriating abductees with the Red Cross from June of 1964. President Park and other government officials, along with more than one million other people, signed the petition. It was submitted to the UN on December 11 the same year, but failed to make progress on the issue.

Chungang Ilbo: From April 1970, the newspaper published a series entitled "Three Months Under Control of the Enemy"