Fisherman Jeon Wook-pyo Escapes North Korea 41 Years After Kidnapping

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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A South Korean fisherman kidnapped by North Korea in 1972 escaped and returned home to Seoul 41 years later, government officials said Friday.

Jeon Wook-pyo, 68, was one of 25 crewmen on two boats North Korean captured in the Yellow Sea in 1972, said Choi Sung-yung of the Abductees' Family Union.

“He is the only crewman from those two boats to have escaped,” Sung-yung said.

Wook-pyo fled North Korea in early August, but there was no report of just how he escaped.

Sung-yung said Wook-pyo was investigated by South Korean government officials for two weeks before he was returned to his family in Seoul.

South Korea maintains that the North has kidnapped an estimated 500 South Koreans since the Korean War armistice agreement of 1953.

The Japanese government asserts that 17 Japanese citizens were abducted by agents of North Korea from 1977 to 1983. North Korea has admitted to 13 of the kidnappings, many of whom are still missing.

In 2002, five Japanese abductees were allowed to return to Japan on the condition that they would later come back to North Korea. After pressure and pleas from the general public, Japan later informed the North Korean government that the victims would not be returning. After that all talks regarding the abductions ended. North Korea considers the matter closed.

Sources: Daily Mail, ABC News