But South Korea has for decades — through conservative and progressive regimes — remained largely silent on the hundreds of its citizens thought kidnapped by the North, people like Yokota Megumi's husband.
But that might be changing, Seoul says:
South Korea will push for the release of hundreds of its nationals believed held in North Korea if the two countries hold talks this year on improving relations, a senior official said Sunday.How sad every year during family holidays like today, Lunar New Year, to be able to do nothing but wonder where your child or parent is.
"This issue will be treated as an important topic along with the North Korean nuclear issue if South and North Korea start dialogue," Vice Unification Minister Hong Yang-Ho said.
"We have made preparations with the determination to make a breakthrough in these issues this year," Yonhap news agency quoted him as saying.
By Seoul's official count 494 South Koreans, mostly fishermen, were seized in the Cold War decades following the 1950-53 Korean conflict and more than 500 prisoners of war were never sent home in 1953.
But unlike Japan which secured the official release of some of its own abductees, previous South Korean governments have been reluctant to make a major issue of the kidnappings.
Hong, visiting an observation post overlooking the closely-guarded border, was speaking to a group whose relatives remain in the communist state.
Senior ministry officials hold the event each year during the Lunar New Year holiday to console families separated since the war.
Such unspeakable cruelty from the North fills me with an animus I cannot describe.
The story is also carried by Yonhap and UPI.