ROK Official Favors Piling Pressure on Pyongyang over Abductions; DPRK Defectors Allude to Japanese Abductees During Interviews
17:26 JST, February 9, 2024
SEOUL — South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yung Ho is determined to rescue people abducted by North Korea, and he emphasized an approach that cranks up the pressure on Pyongyang to deal with this issue.
“We recognize that South Korea and Japan must act in solidarity on North Korean human rights issues,” Kim said in an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun in Seoul on Thursday.
Officials of the ministry’s North Korea Human Rights Records Center survey North Korean defectors through a face-to-face interview based on a questionnaire. The details learned from these surveys are reportedly stored at the South Korean Justice Ministry’s in-house archive on North Korea’s human rights.
More than 30,000 North Korean defectors are currently living in South Korea.
Defectors alluded to Japanese people about two times during previous ministry surveys. However, Japan was not specifically included in the questions. Consequently, very few answers mentioned Japan, and the content of those answers reportedly was vague.
“By including questions [about Japanese abductees] in the survey, we might be able to confirm specific cases and locations,” Kim said. “This also could be the first step toward collecting even more information.”
During the 1950-53 Korean War, many South Korean civilians were forcibly taken to North Korea and detained there. Even after the conflict, fishermen and other South Koreans were abducted by Pyongyang, and about 500 people remain unaccounted for. The conciliatory approach Seoul has taken toward North Korea so far has been a major reason why these missing people have not become a bigger issue.
According to Kim, “The international community is worried that when an administration in South Korea changes, the level of interest in North Korean human rights issues will change.”
Kim outlined a South Korean government plan to build a “national North Korean human rights center” in Seoul that would serve as a permanent hub to widely convey information on Pyongyang’s human rights violations. This center is scheduled to be completed in 2026, and the government has finished securing the necessary funding and land for the project. The center aims to shed light on North Korea’s human rights issues through joint exhibitions with museums that introduce violations of human rights committed in other nations.
Kim pointed out that enhanced Tokyo-Seoul cooperation was crucial given the possibility that former U.S. President Donald Trump, who met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for talks in person, could return to the White House after November’s presidential election. “It’s vital that South Korea and Japan build up cooperative ties so we can also respond to any political changes in the United States,” the minister said.
"World" POPULAR ARTICLE
North Korean Workers in China Riot over Unpaid Wages; 2,000 Occupy Factory, Kill Plant Manager
India’s EV Market Expected to Accelerate; World Automakers Vie for Market Dominance
Ukraine Hopes to Attract Japanese Automakers
Sweden’s Submarine Fleet Ready to Set Off in Baltic Sea to Deter Russia
Myanmar’s Pro-Democracy NUG Seeks Strategic Intl Support; Official Asks Food Aid Not be Channeled Through Junta
JN ACCESS RANKING
- Japan Eyes 45 B. Yen in Aid for Optical Semiconductors
- Business, Labor Leaders Reaffirm Vow to Raise Wages in Shunto Talks
- Japan’s Job Availability Ratio Rises for 2nd Straight Year
- North Korean Workers in China Riot over Unpaid Wages; 2,000 Occupy Factory, Kill Plant Manager
- M4.8 Earthquake Hits Central Tokyo; No Tsunami Expected