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Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
World News

Christian missionary’s son appeals to UN for father's release from North Korea

by Lydia Davies

The son of imprisoned South Korean missionary, Choe Chun-gil, is set to make an international appeal at a United Nations meeting for his father's release from North Korea. 

Chun-gil, aged 65, is one of seven South Koreans whose whereabouts have been unknown since being detained in North Korea in 2014. 

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Chun-gil’s son, Jin Young, 34, is visiting Geneva this week to “muster international attention on North Korea's abductee issue”. 

The ministry explained that Jin Young is expected to "urge the international community to support efforts to confirm the fate of his father and other detained South Koreans, as well as press North Korea to repatriate them". 

Kim Kuk-gi, a former Presbyterian pastor and missionary, is also reported to be among those detained with Chun-gil.  

The Church in Chains reported in May 2015 that North Korean authorities presented Kuk-gi and Chun-gil at a press conference in Pyongyang where they "confessed" to stealing state secrets for South Korea. 

Young's visit coincides with the ongoing 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council that has been running from 26th February and will end on 5th April. 

During his visit, Young is scheduled to meet with Elizabeth Salmon, the UN special rapporteur for North Korean human rights, Julie Turner, the US special representative for North Korean human rights and Lee Shin-hwa, South Korea’s ambassador for international cooperation on North Korean human rights. 

The Unification Ministry previously expressed its intention of seeking international cooperation with countries such as the United States, Japan and Canada to help resolve North Korea's abduction issue. 

The ministry said: "We will do our best to expand international cooperation, as close cooperation with the international community is crucial to resolving the issue of abductees, detainees and [Prisoners of War]”. 

The last negotiation concerning detainees between South and North Korea took place during the April 2018 inter-Korean summit at Panmunjom. 

As per government data, out of an estimated 3,835 South Koreans kidnapped since the end of the Korean war, 3,310 were returned home, nine escaped, and 516 have yet to return. 

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