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UN group asks Pyongyang to determine whereabouts of 41 missing persons

The Han River runs between Ganghwa Island and North Korea's North Hwanghae Province, in this photo taken in July. (Yonhap)
The Han River runs between Ganghwa Island and North Korea's North Hwanghae Province, in this photo taken in July. (Yonhap)

A UN group has asked the North Korean government to provide an explanation as to the whereabouts of 41 civilians presumed to have gone missing or been abducted.

According to an annual report posted on its website, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has requested information on a total of 41 “enforced disappearance” cases from May 23, 2019, to May 15, 2020. The report is to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council’s upcoming 45th session slated for Sept. 14 to Oct. 2.

An “enforced disappearance” refers to a person going missing after being arrested, detained or abducted against their will by a government or other state-run organization.

The working group said it has asked Pyongyang to confirm the status of 316 cases of enforced disappearances since the organization’s establishment in 1980. But the North has repeatedly denied its involvement or kept mum on the issue.

“The Working Group remains concerned by the lack of engagement and cooperation from a number of countries. For instance, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continues to send standard replies without substantive information on the case transmitted,” the agency said in the latest report, using the North’s formal name.

The subjects of the inquiry include South Korean and Japanese nationals abducted during the 1950-53 Korean War, missing North Korean defectors forcibly repatriated to the North from China and 11 passengers and crew members from South Korea who were abducted in 1969 from a hijacked Korean Air flight.

Earlier in February, the working group released a press release urging North Korea to repatriate 11 missing civilians from the hijacked plane 50 years ago, calling on the country to provide information about them and allow them to communicate with their relatives.

Separately, the working group said it has requested to visit North Korea for an inquiry during this period, but has not received a positive response.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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