A government panel to verify kidnappings of South Koreans by North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War officially confirmed 55 South Korean abductees for the first time, the Prime Minister’s Office said Tuesday.
The National Committee on Investigating Abductions during the Korean War, which is headed by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, held its third session and made the decision, officials said.
The government has so far made compensation measures including financial support for those who were kidnapped by the North after the fratricidal war. But there was little support for those abducted during the war.
“This is the first case for those kidnapped during the war. For the confirmed cases, we will begin programs to restore their honor, find whether they are still alive or not and recover their remains in the North if they had already passed away,” Choi Jung-sik, director of the public relations at the committee, told The Korea Herald.
“Some of them have suffered pains as some here claimed in the past that they had voluntarily entered North Korea and supported it and converted (to communism). The decision would relieve them of these dishonorable arguments.”
The process of recovering the remains of the dead in the North would not be easy as the North has persistently claimed that they have decided to live north of the border on their free will.
The list of the abductees covers a wide range of professions including former lawmakers, public servants and farmers.
“Since the committee was launched on Dec. 13 last year, we have established a foundation for the verification of the truths behind the abductions,” Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said during the committee session. “I urge you to work harder to actively find the facts and truths of the issue.”
The committee has received abduction reports from families here across the country since January. Until the end of 2013 it will continue to receive abduction reports from citizens across the country and Korean overseas missions.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org)