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Unification minister to meet families of S. Korean detainees in N. Korea

Cho Joong-hoon, spokesperson at Seoul's unification ministry, holds a regular press briefing at the government complex building in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Cho Joong-hoon, spokesperson at Seoul's unification ministry, holds a regular press briefing at the government complex building in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

Unification Minister Kwon Young-se plans to meet with families of South Koreans detained in North Korea this week and explain the government's commitment to resolving the issue, his office said Monday.

Kwon plans to meet with family members of two out of six detainees Friday in a bid to console them and express the government's willingness to win their release, according to Seoul's unification ministry.

It will be the first time that a unification minister meets with families of such detainees, it added.

Since 2013, six South Koreans, including three pastors, have been detained in North Korea on charges of committing what the North called anti-North Korea crimes.

"The government has maintained the stance that bringing them back to their home country is necessary as its obligation to protect its nationals," Cho Joong-hoon, spokesperson at the ministry, told a regular press briefing.

The government will make efforts to fundamentally resolve the matter through various channels, including meetings with their families, inter-Korean talks and cooperation from the international community, he added.

Of the detainees, three South Korean pastors -- Kim Jung-wook, Kim Kuk-gi and Choe Chun-gil -- were sentenced to hard labor for life on charges of spying for South Korea's spy agency. The other three detainees are known to be North Korean defectors. (Yonhap)

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