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Jun.7,2010- North Korean Defector's Testimony
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2014-01-14 10:43:07  |  Hit 1175

“Forced to monitor each other with four POW’s families in the neighborhood, and often beaten brutally”
First testimony of a North Korean defector who is a family member of the abductees

Chosun Daily
Jun. 7, 2010


“When I die, I want to lie beside my parents. I’ve been away for so long. If I die before I see unification, please bury me at the top of the highest mountain.”

Jang Hyeon-su (assumed name) was abducted by the North Korean Army fleeing to the North on October 3, 1950 in Sagi-ri, Hwado-myeon, Gwanghwa Island. He was 17 years old at the time of his abduction. Last March, he passed away in North Korea, unable to return home.

I met his daughter, Jang Gui-hwa (assumed name•79), on the 5th in the office of KWAFU located in Cheongnyangni, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul. She said, “I blamed my father for everything when I lived in North Korea. But after I came here, I feel sorry for him.” Jang could not even dare to say that he missed his hometown while he was alive.

More than 80,000 civilians were abducted by the North during the Korean War. 60 years have passed, but no one returned. Jang Gui-hwa is the first among some 20,000 North Korean defectors who is confirmed to be a family member of the civilian abductees.

Her father got a tattoo of his birth day on his left arm so that he would not forget who he really was. She got divorced because her father was South Korean. It was when she returned to her parents’ house after her divorce in the mid-1980s that she heard how her father came to the North.

“The North Korean Army went door to door to pick out young men. I was one of them. I walked all day long with a rifle at my back. In the evening, the North Korean soldiers gave us North Korean Army uniforms and rifles. The rifle I received was about as long as I was tall. I told them I had to go back to take care of my mother who was sick. I was kicked hard in my back. They told me that I must protect my country. I thought I could go back after 1 or 2 years."

According to the List of Korean War Abductees published by the government in 1952, on October 3, 1950, 29 young men were abducted at the same time, who were between 20 and 35 years in age, in Sagi-ri, Hwado-myeon, Gwanghwa Island, which is Jang’s hometown. At that time Seoul had been recaptured, but Gwanghwa Island was still occupied by the North Korean Army. Jang survived after his abduction, but he suffered frostbite on his left lower body and limped all his life.

Jang worked as a railroad laborer in Musan, North Hamgyeong province. The North Korean Political Security Bureau made him live in a neighborhood with four other POWs’ families. Each of them was supposed to monitor the other. Railroad accidents frequently occurred in Musan due to its rugged mountainous terrain. Sometimes people who opposed the North Korean regime put a large rock on the railroad and this caused the train to derail. Every time this kind of accident occurred, Jang and his son were taken to the Bureau and beaten due to his background. His seven sons and daughters, including Jang Gui-hwa, the eldest daughter, were discriminated against and treated coldly by others. They blamed Jang for everything. They often said, “Why did you have these many children and have us suffer? It’s all your fault. We want you disappear and never come back again.”

Jang stopped working when his bronchitis grew worse from heavy smoking. He spent most of his time at home lying down. An official from the Bureau visited Jang every other day to check on him and gave him three A4-size papers to record what he had been doing.

When drinking, he sang a song that starts with these lyrics: “My hometown is a blooming mountain village.” Jang Gui-hwa said, “When the three POWs in the neighborhood passed away, he did not go to their funerals. He cried alone in his room.”

When she told him that she had visited his hometown in the South, he just pounded his chest with fists, not able to let out what was inside. About two weeks later, he passed away. It was last March.

Wiping her tears, she said, “Father asked us to visit the graves of his parents. But we haven’t had a chance to visit them yet. It is frustrating that we don’t know when we can carry out his wish.”
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