Son of KAL Hijacking Victim Advocates Tirelessly for Father’s Return

February 14, 2017: Today, we’re going to speak with Hwang In Cheol, whose father was kidnapped during the 1969 North Korean hijacking of Korean Airlines Flight YS-11. Thanks for coming in today. Can you start by telling us some basic information about the incident that separated you from your father?

“I was only two years old at the time. The domestic flight departed from Gangneung Airbase and was heading towards Gimpo Airport on December 11, 1969. It took off at 12:25 pm. Only 10 minutes after takeoff, a North Korean spy named Jo Chang Hui forcibly took control of the aircraft. The plane was rerouted to North Korea, and escorted by North Korean fighter planes….” Continue reading at Daily NK.

Torn Apart: The Human Rights Dimension of the Involuntary Separation of Korea Families

December 7, 2016: A new report, published today by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR), documents the experiences of families who have been separated since the 1950-1953 Korean War through displacement, forced disappearance and abductions, and as a result of those fleeing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The KAL hijacking and Mr. Hwang’s efforts to ensure the crime is not forgotten are mentioned on page 19, paragraph 49:

The story of Mr. Hwang In-chul, whose father was abducted in 1969, along with 50 other passengers and crew members of a Korean Air flight, remains among the best-known cases of proven post-war abductions by the authorities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Whereas 39 victims were returned to the Republic of Korea in 1970, all others remained disappeared, including Mr. Hwang’s father, a medical doctor, media technicians and four crew members.

According to witnesses, Mr. Hwang’s father, a journalist, had strongly resisted his abductors while being “re-educated” to embrace North Korean ideology, which may explain why he was not returned. A sequence of worldwide plane hijackings in the following months motivated a resolution by the Security Council “appeal[ing] to all parties concerned for the immediate release of all passengers and crews without exception.” Mr. Hwang stated that the incident was particularly traumatic for his family and his upbringing because “even if you are a victim, society looks down on you and you are considered a spy.”

Related article.

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.

Letter to the UN Secretary-General by Mr Hwang & Petition

Please sign the accompanying petition in English, KoreanFrenchGerman, SpanishPortuguese, Arabic, or Chinese.

Dear Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon:

My name is In-cheol Hwang, and I represent the Families of the KAL Passengers Abducted by North Korea. As I am writing you this letter with a heart anguished beyond repair, I am still desperately longing to see my father. Continue reading “Letter to the UN Secretary-General by Mr Hwang & Petition”