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Lee Chae-deok
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2013-12-26 16:01:23  |  Hit 15650
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Abductee: Lee Chae-deok
Recorded Date: November 15th, 2007

Profile of Abductee

Name: Lee Chae-deok (male)
Date of Birth: January 25, 1915
Place of Birth: 155 Sinbong-ri, Hajeom-myeon, Ganghwa-gun, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Last Address: 27 Gwansu-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Date of Abduction: Late July 1950 (age 35)
Place of Abduction: Cottage Behind Gwangmoo Theater in Wangsimni
Occupation: Tax Officer
Education/Career: Seoul Joongang High school
Dependents: Wife, 3 Sons, 2 Daughterss
Appearance/Personality: 170cm tall/ active personality

Profile of Testifier

Name: Lee Ui-hoon (born in 1936)
Relation: Second son
Type of Witness: Direct witness

Summary of Abduction

- Abductee’s father was murdered by leftists in Ganghwa-do.
- Working as a tax official, he was actively participated in a rightist group and had a leading role.
- He was arrested by Internal Affairs Agency officer in Chungjeong-ro, Seoul.
- When his son visited him detained in the Chungjeong-ro Substation for Internal Affairs, he asked his son to bring a knife next day, and the son brought a knife as told, but failed to cut the rope fastened on the wrist of the abductee, so the son could do nothing but just standing by and witnessing his father taken to the North.

Detail of the Abduction

Q. How was the atmosphere around the town when the war broke out?
After the liberation(1945) from Japanese colonization, my father helped grandfather's business in Ganghwa-do for some time. At that time, there were many conflicts between the rightists and the leftists. The conflict in Ganghwa-do was fiercer than any other place. In Ganghwa-do, my father led a right-wing association for young people. Later, we moved to Seoul and I started to attend a middle school and he worked in a revenue office.

Q. Why didn’t you evacuate Seoul when the war broke out?
When the Korean War broke out, we could not even think of fleeing Seoul, and also did not expect that Seoul would fall into the hands of the enemy such soon. Most citizens of Seoul thought that our army would defeat them soon. Eventually, we ended up welcoming the North Korean Army to Seoul.
June 25 was the day we planned to move from our house in Gwansu-dong to a Han-ok (a Korean traditional house) village in Ahyeon-dong. As we were heading to Seodaemun with our belongings on handcarts, we could see soldiers around the street. It seemed that we were losing, and three days after, we heard noises of tanks in Seoul. I think the North Korean Army occupied Seoul on the 28th. There were a lot of people around Ahyeon elementary school on that day. People were waving the North Korean flag, welcoming the North Korean Army. On top of a tank stood a female soldier, who was tanned like a man, waved back at people. It was clear that the Communists have taken over the city.

Q. Please describe the situation around the time of abduction.
Someone told us that leftists in Ganghwa-do who had been in conflicts with my father in the past were looking for him. On hearing this, he rented a cottage behind Gwangmoo Theater in Wangsimni, and hid there. At first, we also had no idea where he was hiding. He later told us about the hideout. In Seoul, we lived with cousins of my mother's side. There were too many mouth to feed and we ran out of food soon. My family, except for me and my older cousin, left back to Ganghwa-do. My cousin was old enough to be forcibly drafted to the so-called ‘Voluntary Army’, so it was dangerous for him to travel such a long distance. He always pulled down his hat low so that people would not notice him.
One day, he did not return home. Due to an accident in childhood, he lost sight of one of his eyes, so we thought he would be rejected from the Army. However, he was dragged anyway to a prison in Geoje-do island and was released later safely.
It was very scary to stay alone in the house, so I packed my belongings and went to my father's hideout. It was in a quite alley and seemed like a good place to hide. From then on, I tried to protect my father serving the role of a watchman. I opened a street stall near the hideout to sell plums and oriental melons and watched if any suspicious person came by. For several days, I guarded my father like that.

Q. How was he abducted?
One day, when I was watching the street on my stall just as usual, a neighbor came by and told me that my father was arrested. I thought it could not be possible, since I was paying close attention on the street.
When I ran back home, he was already gone. Later, I found out that a relative of ours informed on my father to leftists. He even provided them a detailed map leading to my father's hideout. Neighbors told me that five men with red armbands came through the backdoor and grabbed him out.
Those were the times when one could not even trust one’s relatives. Some of them held different ideology, and in Ganghwa-do, the confrontation between the rightists and the leftists were serious than ever. I assume that was why my relatives informed on my father. It was late July.

Reason behind the Abduction

Q. Why do you think he was abducted?
I also lost my grandfather to the Korean War. He is said to be brutally murdered by the leftists in Ganghwa-do. Specifically who killed him or how he was killed is unknown. After the war, my family could survive with some left-over fortune, yet our wounds from losing the pillars of family never healed.
My father was a leading activist in a rightist group, so abduction was kind of revenge from the leftists.

News after the Abduction

Q: Did you know where he was taken to?
The North Korean Army used a police substation near Chungjeong-no three-way intersection as an office for the Internal Affairs Agency. They did not have enough food, so I was told to bring meals for my father who was imprisoned there. I brought two bowls of mallow soup and was allowed to talk with my father, for the officers were not as mean as the leftists in Ganghwa-do. Three or four days passed with me carrying meals for my father. And one day, my father quietly told me that he would be sent to Ganghwa-do the next day. He told me, "Bring a knife with you tomorrow."

The next day, I took two bowls of soup as usual, and a folding knife in my pocket. I arrived at the police station the next day and saw officers tying my father up with a rope. They then handed him over to an Internal Affairs Agency officer from Ganghwa-do. The officer was an acquaintance of my family, yet he was a leftist and came to Seoul to drag my father to Ganghwa-do. My family was nice to him, but he repaid our kindness with ingratitude. The officers at the Internal Affairs Agency told me not to follow them, but I kept myself near them, trying to catch an opportunity to free my father. They reached a dock in Mapo. The officer had a bicycle with him and was looking for a boat to go across the river. My father kept on sending me signs to free him from the rope with the knife in my hand. I got his signs, yet was too scared to cut the rope very near the officers.
He was just tied in a rope that could be easily cut off, but I was just too afraid. My father was a strong man who could beat up the officer once he was freed. I still don't understand why I was so scared. Later I managed to hand him over the knife, but I think he was not able to free himself with it because I gave him the knife folded. If I did not have the courage to cut the rope, I at least should have given him the knife stretched... That was the last time I’ve seen my father. I am still angry at myself and sorry to my father. The officer stopped me from following them from Mapo told me to go back and then they headed toward Gimpo.

Our house turned into the office of the Internal Affairs Agency, our shed into a torture chamber. After my father was taken, I was left behind in Seoul alone once again. I could not live on my own, so I went to my aunt's house in Ganghwa-do. There, I heard news about my father and found out that our house was being used as the Internal Affairs Agency's headquarters, since it was one of the largest house in the town. He was locked up in his own house. Later, neighbors told me that he was tortured in our own shed. Neighbors told me that they could hear my father’s screams over the wall.

After a while, he was sent to the Internal Affairs Agency's office in Ganghwa-do, and we were told to bring his meals. Everyday my mother, with a three-year-old baby on her back, walked all the way to the Agency to bring him meals. Soon after, my father was sent back to Seoul and was imprisoned in the Seodaemun Prison. A friend of my father later told me that he had seen my father, tied up in wires, being hauled to the North, over the Miari Ridge. After all the torture in Ganghwa-do, his condition could not have been good, but they dragged him around from Ganghwa-do to Seoul to the North.
Shin Dong-chul, a friend of my father who had escaped the abduction, told me that he had been with my father on the way to Dongdu-cheon. That is the last thing I know about my father’s whereabouts. I cannot help but think that things could have changed if only I had cut his rope back in Mapo.
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