Paroled from Death, Or Worse

The anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s invasion of South Korea is a fitting time to post about just the latest Ssouth Korean prisoner of war to return home after being held in North Korea  since a 1953  Armistice agreement in  it agreed to  return  its prisoners.   

A prisoner of war (POW) escaped from North Korea 55 years after being captured and is currently staying in China awaiting entry to South Korea, the association of abductees’ family members said Tuesday. 

Kim Jin-soo, 74, who fought in the Korean War (1950-53) at the age of 17, crossed the Tumen River on June 14 and is now in China, Choi Sung-yong, leader of the association, told a press conference in Seoul.  Choi said Kim was taken to the Stalinist state with a gunshot wound before the armistice was signed in July 1953. The South Korean army reported he was dead and included him in the roll of fallen soldiers.  [Korea Times]

Instead of repatriating Kim, the North Koreans sent him off for an effective  life sentence of hard labor — at first, in the coal mines, and later, on a farm (can anyone name an agreement the North Koreans have ever not flagrantly violated?).  Along the way, he married and had five children.  He had to leave his family behind in the North. 

The POW sent President Lee Myung-bak a written petition last Tuesday to ask for help.  Choi also urged the authorities and citizens to help save abductees and POWs.

Describing Kim’s condition, “he was 150-centimeters tall when he participated in the war but now he has shrunk to 140-centimeters and weighs only 35 kilograms. We should recognize the pain of POWs who work in coalmines for about 40 years,” Choi said.

Saying most of the POWs are old, Choi claimed that North Korea should send them back to their hometowns and South Korean should begin negotiations over their repatriation.   [Korea Times]

Kim is now staying in a “third country.”  The South Korean government is said to be negotiating his return to South Korea.   I wonder how much conversation with his  young grand nieces and nephews  Kim will be able tolerate before he realizes that his country barely remembers or cares where in hell he was.