A Son’s Fight (KJD Podcasts Episode 13)

October 6, 2016: Kudos to KJD Podcast for creating this heartfelt podcast about Mr. Hwang’s campaign to learn about his father’s fate in North Korea!

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“In 1969, a North Korean agent hijacked a South Korean passenger jet bound for Seoul and took with him 50 people across the border, in what has now become one of the most infamous abduction cases in Korea. Hwang In-cheol’s father was one of the passengers on board who never returned. More than 40 years later, Hwang is still holding out hope that he might be able to bring his father back from North Korea.”

Loyal Son’s Lonely Crusade by Donald Kirk

September 1, 2016: Time slowly erases the traces of those held in North Korea. The longer they’re there, the easier it is to forget them. Their families, reluctant to invest more psychic energy on those for whom they know the North Koreans have no mercy, give up the quest.

As individuals move on, however, you wonder how or why bureaucrats in Seoul say nothing, do nothing. That’s a question Hwang In-cheol often ponders. He’s long since become accustomed to getting much the same response when he asks: Why can’t you please apply some pressure, do something, anything, to find out about my father?

Hwang’s father is Hwang Won, who’s been in North Korea ever since North Korean goons hijacked a Korean Air passenger plane on a domestic flight with 50 people on board in December 1969. Hwang was two at the time and has no memory of his father, a producer for MBC, but still has a black-and-white photo that shows him smiling as his father embraces him and a cousin. Alone among family members of the 11 whom North Korea never returned, Hwang refuses to accept indifferent shrugs and advice to let it go. Continue reading at Donald Kirk’s blog.

Mr. Hwang to the World: Bring My Father Home

A big thank you to former TNKR intern Priscilla McCelvey for this touching and insightful piece on Mr. Hwang’s crusade and journey:

August 30, 2016: At the Freedom Bridge between North and South Korea, during a recent rally for the return of his father, Hwang In-cheol sings a traditional Korean song about missing your home, longing for your hometown. His voice is soothing and stable, almost as if a breeze could carry it, a metaphorical reach across the world’s most militarized border to try and connect with his father. The lyrics of the song are the last words any South Korean has heard from former MBC television producer Hwang Won. While imprisoned against his will in North Korea, he sang the song in protest. In response, North Korean government officials dragged him away; no one has seen him since.

All the while, Hwang In-cheol has spent most of his adult life fighting for the return of his father, who was abducted by the North Korean government on December 11, 1969. Mr. Hwang was two years old, and his father was thirty-two. On that day, a North Korean agent hijacked Korean Airlines Plane (KAL) YS-11 while en route to Seoul, taking 50 people with him across the border into North Korea. Since then, 39 of the people have been returned, the remaining eleven’s fate still unknown. Continue reading at Pax Politica.

Signe Poulsen: Enforced Disappearances

August 19, 2016: On Aug. 30, the international community will mark the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances. This day is an opportunity for people in all parts of the world to reflect and commemorate the missing, to denounce the practice of enforced disappearances, and to advocate for an end to this practice.

Under international law, an enforced disappearance occurs when an individual is arrested, detained, or otherwise deprived of their liberty by government officials or individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, consent or acquiescence of the government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person. Continue reading at The Korea Times.

Korea Times Roundtable: I Want My Father Back

August 19, 2016: Hwang In-cheol doesn’t remember what his father looked like. After all, Hwang was only a two-year-old toddler when an airplane his father, Hwang Won, a television program director, was on board was hijacked by a North Korean agent.

KT Round Table

That was 47 years ago on Dec. 11, 1969. However much time may pass, some wounds never heal. For Hwang, that wound is his father. The bizarreness involved in his father’s abduction makes the situation even more painful for him. The senior Hwang was not supposed to take that fateful flight ― it was a last-minute call from his boss, who asked him to take his place. Continue reading at The Korea Times.

NK Refugees to Share Their Stories at Joint Panel Event

July 27, 2016: North Korean refugees will share their stories at a panel event with scholars, activists and volunteers. The mini-conference, hosted by Teach North Korean Refugees and Seoul University of Foreign Studies, will feature two panels…

The refugee speakers will include North Korean-American Cherie Yang and Hwang In-Cheol, the son of a man who was on the 1969 airplane hijacked by a North Korean agent. Lartigue said he was telling his story to help efforts to get his father freed. Continue reading at The Korea Herald.

UN Requests NK to Release Fate of 14 Abductees Including Former KAL Crew

July 19, 2016: The United Nations has officially called on North Korea to release information on the fate of 14 people held captive in the reclusive country, including a South Korean plane crew kidnapped 47 years ago, a U.S.-based media outlet said Tuesday.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) said the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) also requested the Pyongyang regime confirm whether the five North Korean defectors who were forcibly taken back to North from China and six people who were arrested in North Korea for their anti-state activities are still alive. …

The request comes as a South Korean politician said recently that North Korea is still holding more than 500 South Koreans abducted since the end of the Korean War in 1953, including 11 from a Korean Air Lines (KAL) passenger aircraft. Continue reading at Yonhap News.

After 43 Years Trapped in NK, A Survivor Fights Back

July 5, 2016: Kawasaki Aiko is currently the head of an NGO that helps defectors in their attempt to set up their new lives in Japan. She is also behind a major international effort to conduct an investigation to discover the truth behind the repatriations.

Kawasaki Aiko is extremely busy these days, preoccupied with the task of bringing these issues to the public’s attention. In the process, she has become a nuisance to the North Korean authorities, Chongryon (the pro-Pyongyang federation of Korean residents in Japan), and the Japanese government. That’s because she insists that the repatriations are not some piece of forgotten history that can be easily swept under the rug, but a collection of human rights infractions that continue to this day. Continue reading at Daily NK. 

Son Crusades to Meet Father Hijacked to NK

July 4, 2016: When Hwang In-cheol was 2 years old, his father disappeared. … It wasn’t until Hwang was in the third grade that his father’s brother decided he should know the truth.

Hwang Won was a 32-year-old producer for Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) based in Gangwon. On Dec. 11, 1969, he boarded a Korean Air flight from Gangneung, Gangwon, for Gimpo International Airport in Seoul to attend an MBC internal meeting. A senior colleague who was supposed to attend was busy. He ordered Hwang to fill in for him. Continue reading at The Korea JoongAng Daily.