December 23, 1969. North Korea offered today to negotiate with South Korean representatives for the return of passengers from a hijacked airliner, according to the North Korean press agency.
A Korean Airlines YS-11 turboprop plane was hijacked to North Korea on Dec. 11 with 47 passengers and four crewmen aboard shortly after it took off from Kangnung to Seoul, South Korea.
The press agency praised the two South Korean pilots who hijacked the plane. It said they would never be sent back to South Korea.
The angency’s statement, monitored here, offered to discuss the return of the passengers with “representatives of relevent nonofficial organisations of South Korea” and listed a labor union federation, a women’s association and cooperative groups as acceptable negotiators. It suggested that the talks be held at the armistace village of Panmunjom.
Government Commends Pilots
The statement ruled out the Korean Military Armistace Command or mediators from other countries as negotiators on the subject.
The report also said that the two hijackers, Yu Byong-ha and the co-pilot, Choe Sok-man, were commended today by North Korea’s cabinet and military commission, and were awarded the equivalentr of about $20,000 for their “patriotic deeds.”
Both men, the statement said, would be placed on the reserve lost of the North Korean Army – Mr. Choe as a colonel, and Mr. Yu as a lieutenant colonel.