• Kyodo


Pyongyang has offered to let a man both Japan and South Korea say was kidnapped and fathered the daughter of Japanese abductee Megumi Yokota in North Korea meet his mother for a special reunion, the communist nation’s official media said Thursday.

The North will allow the man, South Korean national Kim Young Nam, to meet his mother for a special reunion at Mount Kumgang in North Korea, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

Seoul and Tokyo believe Kim was Yokota’s husband.

The revelation was conveyed Wednesday to South Korea in separate telephone messages by Kwon Ho Ung, head of the North’s delegation to inter-Korean ministerial talks, and Jang Jae On, chairman of the North’s Red Cross Society Central Committee, according to KCNA.

“A competent institution in the north side conducted an investigation into the issue of Kim Young Nam which resulted in confirming the fact that he resides in the north,” KCNA quoted Jang as saying.

“In this regard the north side, prompted by compatriotism and humanitarianism, decided to let him meet with his mother in the south side,” Jang was quoted as saying.

KCNA did not mention if North Korea admitted abducting Kim from South Korea or whether he was Yokota’s husband, whom the North refers to as Kim Chol Jun.

Reunions of separated families and relatives are scheduled to be held at Mount Kumgang from June 22 to 24, a senior South Korean Unification Ministry official said.

At a news conference in Seoul, Kim Young Nam’s older sister, Kim Young Ja, expressed gratitude for the arrangement and said she and her mother, Choi Gye Wol, 78, will visit the North.

“What I can say is when I meet my son I would just like to hug him for all the hardships he must have had,” Choi said.

The sister said the Unification Ministry told her the reunion may be held in late June.

She also said she hopes the parents of Yokota will accompany them if North Korea permits it. But Megumi’s parents, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, have repeatedly said they will never go to North Korea and will instead continue to call on Pyongyang to return all the people it has abducted.

Kim is said to be one of five South Korean men North Korea abducted in 1977 and 1978 when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.

Both Tokyo and Seoul have tested DNA samples that indicate Kim is the father of Yokota’s daughter, Kim Hye Gyong.

North Korea, which has admitted abducting Megumi and 12 other Japanese nationals, claims Yokota married Kim Chol Jun in 1986 and gave birth to Hye Gyong in 1987 before killing herself in 1994 while being treated for depression. Her family believes she is still alive.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Japan will continue to work with South Korea on resolving the abduction issue.

“The Japanese government does not know the background to North Korea’s announcement to South Korea or what its real intentions are. Anyhow, we believe it should be up to the family to decide on what they want to do and we will keep watch over the progress,” he said.

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