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June 9, 2008

Abducted South Korean Man Escapes North Korea 33 Years Later

The schism between North and South Korea has left brother against brother. Separated at the 44th parallel, the Korea that used to be one has been two for several decades now. The pain of the split resonates to this day.

The hurt and anger about the great split of the two Korea’s runs deep. Over the years many South Koreans have been abducted and help captive. One of those captives, Yoon Jong-soo escaped recently after over 30 years of being held against his will.

Yoon was a fisherman in 1975 when his boat was captured and all 32 occupants were taken into North Korean custody. He was among the 480 people that are believed to be held in North Korea against their will. Only three other detainees that were taken at the time Yoon was have returned to South Korea over the past few years.

What exactly do countries do with detainees that they kidnap and hold without ransom? It is obvious that North Korea did not want any type of retribution for Yoon or the other hundreds of people they captured. What exactly was the point of holding the Yoon and others? Why would anyone still 3 year for a person? Yoon is now sixty-five years old. He has missed so much of his life because of angry and hatred that has nothing to do with him.

The reunification of Korea does not seem very likely at this time. North Korea remains a Communist hold out and the government there is very suspicious of the outside world. Maybe things are different once you are there and emerged in the culture. Maybe North Korea just looks unfriendly to us because of where we live. However, no matter what the perspective is, holding people captive for thirty plus years seems cruel and usual.

What will become of Yoon? There was no mention as to whether or not he has a family. I wonder if he was able to marry and have children before his life was stolen from him? I wonder if there are still people in South Korea that were waiting for his return. Life does not stop for anyone. Even when the stagnation is not the person’s fault.

It is terrible to think that there are hundreds of people that may die before they ever get back home. What do they do when a South Korean hostage dies in North Korea? I don’t imagine that they allow the family to take the body back for closure. So there are people in South Korea that are waiting for loved ones that will never make it home and for what? Just so North Korea can say that they were able to capture them?

Working towards peace and having a working relationship with North Korea has been hard for most western nations. The country seems unwilling to bend on any of the old hurts and dislikes that they have with South Korea or the world. It is ashamed that average, everyday people like Yoon have to pay the price.

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