[Newsmaker] Two Koreas form panel to bring home remains of colonial-era forced laborers from Japan

By Yonhap
  • Published : Jul 22, 2018 - 17:07
  • Updated : Jul 22, 2018 - 17:46

Civic groups from South and North Korea have formed a committee to bring home the remains of Koreans forced into hard labor in Japan during the 1910-45 colonial era, a leading organizer of the project here said Sunday.

Kim Hong-gul, head of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation (KCRC), told reporters that he and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong-dae, a vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, signed an agreement for the joint project in Pyongyang on Wednesday. He traveled to North Korea for a four-day trip that ended Thursday. 

Kim Hong-gul, head of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, speaks during a press conference in Seoul on July 22, 2018. (Yonhap)

Kim Hong-gul will chair the committee while a vice head of the North's equivalent of the KCRC will take the vice chairman post, he added.

The two sides have also agreed to seek support from the international community, including Japan, and continue to consult each other for the repatriation project.

"We plan to invite our North Korean partners in September," Kim said. "We are also discussing the idea of arranging a meeting between the KCRC and its North Korean counterpart at Mount Kumgang."

Historians say millions of Koreans were mobilized into forced labor during Japan's colonial rule.

Kim earlier said that the project could start with about 2,200 sets of remains that have been located around Japanese temples.

The inter-Korean project comes amid a growing sense of thaw between the two Koreas, which led to the landmark inter-Korean summit in April, where the leaders agreed to expand cross-border exchanges and reduce military tensions. (Yonhap)