Reds Claim Hijack Pilots Want Asylum

December 13, 1969. Radio Pyongyang indicated today the hijacking of a South Korean airliner to North Korea Thursday was the work of the two pilots who were asking political asylum.

Reds claim

The broadcast from the North Korean capital was monitored in Tokyo by the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation (NTK). It did not indicate the fate of the remainder of the 51 persons aboard the plane.

“Two pilots of the Korean Airlin, opposing American imperialism and the  (President) Park Chung-hee regime, flew to the People’s Republic of Korea Dec. 11 with their YS-11 plane,” the broadcast said.

The Japanese-built plane was on a regular flight from Kangnung airfield 105 miles east of Seoul to the capital when itmade a suddern turn and flew to the North Korean port of Wonsan.

In Seoul the government was working through all possible international channels to secure the release of the crew and passengers.

A top police official said he believed North Korean agents were responsible for the act of air piracy Thursday, the second South Korean craft hijacked to North Korea in 11 years.

Foreign Minister Choi Kyu-hah told the national assembly the Japanese-built YS-11 turbo-prop with 51 persons aboard probably landed at Sunduk, five miles north of the port city of Wonson where the USS Peublo was taken after its capture Jan. 23, 1968.

Key government and military officials met to plan moves to secire release of the plane, its 47 passengers, and four-man crew. A government source said the International Red Cross and Korean Military Armistice Commission would be asked to approach North Korea. He said the U.N. Commission on Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea would take up the hijacking at a meeting next week and was expected to condemn North Korea for the act.

Choi Du-yol, director of the national police headquarters said his investigators were checking the backgrounds of all 47 passengers. Oarticular interest was centered on two men claiming to be South Korean army officers who boarded the plane at the last moment.

The plane took off at 12:25 p.m. from Kangnung on Korea’s east coast for a 50-minute flight to Seoul. After about 10 minutes, Air Force radar screens showed it suddenly veering to the north and flew across the demilitarized zone.

Two jets were sent aloft to intercept the craft, but it had too much of a headstart and already had enetered North Korean airspace by the time they were airborne, officials said.

There were no Americans aboard the flight.

In the 1958 hijacking of a Korean Airlines DC3, the 34 persons aboard were held for 18 days before they were released. The North Koreans kept the plane.

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