February 8, 2017: In 1969, Hwang In-cheol’s father was among the 47 passengers and crew aboard a Korea Air (KAL) airliner that was hijacked into North Korea. Most were released under intense international pressure, but 11 of them, including Hwang’s father, who was a journalist and outspoken critic of the then Kim Il Sung regime, were not allowed to return nor permitted to communicate with their 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.”
A slightly revised version of the speech follows:
While listening to Mr. Hwang tell the story of his father a few months ago, I was reminded of the plight of the first person I met who had escaped from North Korea.
That person was not a North Korean defector. He was a prisoner of war. On June 9, 1953, Yoo Young-Bok, a South Korean soldier, was captured by Chinese forces. Continue reading “Peter Daley’s Imjingak Rally Speech”