Abducted South Korean Fisherman Escapes North After 41 Years
A South Korean fisherman escaped from North Korea and made his way home 41 years after being abducted.
Jeon Wook Pyo, 67, was fishing for skate in the Yellow Sea when North Korea seized his boat in 1972, Choi Sung Yong, president of the Seoul-based Abductees’ Family Union, said today by phone. He was the only one of the 25 fisherman captured that day to be heard from again, Choi said. South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung Suk confirmed Jeon’s return at a briefing in Seoul without providing details.
Jeon underwent questioning by South Korean authorities -- a required step for most North Korean defectors -- after arriving in Seoul through a third country, Choi said. Jeon worked as a truck driver in the North before he escaped last month, Choi said. Choi didn’t provide any more details on Jeon’s escape.
“Jeon should be home with his family by now,” said Choi, who has been involved in other escapes by South Koreans for more than a decade.
Yonhap News reported that Jeon wrote a letter to President Park Geun Hye while he was in the third country and asked for help to get him home.
“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,” the letter said, according to Yonhap.
During the war, more than 11,000 South Koreans were abducted by retreating North Korean forces, according to a South Korean Defense Ministry document from 1963. North Korea denies holding any abductees.
South and North Korea technically remain at war after the conflict ended in a truce and without a peace treaty. Relations between the two countries have improved in recent weeks, easing tensions that flared after the North conducted its third nuclear test in February.
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