South Korean fisherman kidnapped for 41 years by North Korea escapes
A South Korean fisherman managed to flee North Korea early last month after spending 41 years in detention.
According to the spokesman of the Abductees’ Family Union, the fisherman Jeon Wook-Pyo, now 68, escaped North Korea through China where he sent a letter to the South Korean president to ask for assistance getting back into South Korea.
In the letter, later released to the press, Mr Wook-Pyo, explains the reasons behind his flight: “I took a chance to escape the North because I had a growing wish to spend the rest of my life with my relatives and brothers at home.”
Since the end of the Korean War in 1955, the Yellow Sea border has been a strategic territory contested between North Korea and South Korea. On the 28th December 1972, Mr Wook-Pyo was fishing near the border when he was kidnapped with 24 other fishermen, whose whereabouts are still unknown.
South Korea estimates that more than 1,000 people, mostly fishermen, have been kidnapped by North Korea since the end of the Korean War.
Indeed, the two nations have technically remained at war since 1953 as no peace treaty has ever been signed by either country. The borders between the two countries are still heavily fortified and it’s extremely difficult to cross them.
After his arrival in Seoul, Mr Wook-Pyo was kept in a safe house and questioned about his life in the North. Seoul’s security officials have had to establish if Jeon Wook-Pyo is actually who he says he is. In the past, many people who escaped from the North have claimed that a large number of spies are sent from the North to the South on undercover missions. Jeon was then authorised to go back home to his family.
South Korea has urged the North many times to set free the remaining abductees, but the local authorities insist that they are not keeping anyone against their will.