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.

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.

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.

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”

Help Me Free My Father From NK

August 13, 2015: The following is the text, translated into English, of Hwang In-cheol’s letter to Marzuki Darusman, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea:

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Dear Mr. Marzuki Darusman,

I am asking for your help as a last resort out of desperation for the repatriation of my father. I am the son of Mr. Hwang Won, who was hijacked by North Korean spies on December 11, 1969, on the way to a business trip.

Please allow me to attend the panel talks that you will be leading in Geneva this September, where I would be able to attend to ask the North Korean government for the repatriation of my father. Continue reading at NK News.

International Seminar on Enforced Disappearance: Lessons for Korea

On July 22, 2015: NKHR hosted a seminar on transitional justice efforts to respond to enforced disappearances at the British Embassy in Seoul. The seminar—International Seminar on Enforced Disappearance: Lessons for Korea—featured speakers from Guatemala, Timor Leste, Indonesia, and Laos sharing experiences of enforced disappearance in their countries. Drawing from these experiences, the seminar also sought practical lessons for Korea as it starts to consider transitional justice initiatives…

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Many of the audience members were victims themselves or family members of abductees. As the substantive sessions of the seminar came to a close, a few shared their concerns with the panel, as well as their own experiences. In-cheol Hwang, son of Won Hwang who was abducted to North Korea when his Korean Airline flight was abducted by North Korea, raised questions about the practical steps activists and families can take despite the South Korean government’s indifference. Aiko Kawasaki, an ethnically Korean Japanese citizen who was persuaded to move to North Korea after being deceived by the pro-Pyongyang Federation of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), spoke about her difficult life in North Korea and her escape. Continue reading at NKHR.

 

NK Statements to The UN

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May 9, 2012: The three cases mentioned are not cases of enforced disappearances. There is no person in my country who has been enforced or involuntarily disappeared or detained against his or her will.

January 21, 2013: The cases are not worthy of consideration. Communications related to such cases are the extensions of stereotyped heinous anti-DPRK political plots by forces hostile to the DPRK, and therefore, have nothing to do with the lofty humanitarian mission of your Working Group.

July 22, 2015: The DPRK categorically rejects all such allegations an an integral part of the anti-DPRK “human rights” rackets. These rackets are only based on false information as fabricated by the so-called “defectors from the North” in order to make money for their living by defaming, slandering, their native places and even telling sheer lies.

Complete document is available here.

International Conference on Enforced Disappearances, Solidarity, Strategies & Solutions

January 21, 2014: The AFAD (Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances) Secretary-General, Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso called on the South Korean government to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in a conference held in Seoul, South Korea, entitled: International Conference on Enforced Disappearances, Solidarity, Strategies and Solutions.

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The conference was opened with a moving video on the Korean Air flight YS-11, when the plane was hijacked by North Korean agents in 1969. 11 victims are still remaining in North Korea. In total, more than 500 cases of enforced disappearances against South Korean citizens have been committed by the North Korean Government. Continue reading at AFAD.

Hwang In-cheol Presents Petition to UNHRC Working Group

July 5, 2010: Hwang In-cheol, a representative of the Families of KAL Passengers Abducted to North Korea, presented a petition to the UN on June 17 in order to find out whether his father Won Hwang detained in North Korea was still alive and could be repatriated. …

In 2001, Seong Kyeong-hee, one of the flight attendants, attended the second reunion of separated families during the Korean War. She told her mom that Yu Byeong-ha and Choi Seok-man were still alive. In addition, Seong told her family that she and Jeong Kyeong-suk, who was also a flight attendant, were living in the same town.

Nevertheless, the North Korean government claimed a few days later that Jeong’s fate was unknown. Thus, except for these three people, Seong, Yu, and Choi, it is not known whether the other abducted South Koreans are still alive. Continue reading at Open Radio for North Korea.

Son of NK Kidnap Victim Seeks UN’s Help

June 10, 2010: “I hope my application serves as an opportunity to draw international attention to North Korea’s kidnap victims. By filing the application, I want to know if my father is alive.”

So said Hwang In-chul, 43, the founder and head of an association of South Korean families whose relatives were abducted by North Korea via a Korean Air flight in 1969. He submitted an application Wednesday to investigate the disappearance of his father, Hwang Won, with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances under the U.N. Human Rights Council. Continue reading at The Dong-A Ilbo.