The South Korean government has taken a practical step to acknowledge the hardships faced by the families of individuals detained against their will in North Korea. The Ministry of Unification, in collaboration with various ministries and committees, has decided to recognize these families as victims of abduction and offer financial compensation. This decision comes after years of efforts to secure the release and well-being of its citizens.
For over a decade, North Korea has been said to be holding six individuals, including missionaries Kim Jeong-wook, Kim Kuk-gi, and Choi Chun-gil. These individuals, who dedicated themselves to assisting underprivileged North Koreans, believe they have been subjected to harsh conditions, with their families left in the dark regarding their status, well-being, or whereabouts. The situation has caused significant emotional pain and various challenges for these families.
The South Korean government recognizes its primary responsibility to protect its citizens. This commitment is reflected in the joint statement adopted by the leaders of the Republic of Korea, the United States, and Japan on August 18. To enhance their efforts, the Ministry of Unification established the Abductees Response Team on September 8, aiming to address the issues of detainees and Prisoners of War (POWs). The government has also sought the cooperation of religious communities and private organizations to verify the missing status and facilitate their repatriation.
Recognizing that the support provided to the families of these individuals may have been insufficient, the government has taken a significant step on November 2. The Deliberative Committee on Compensation and Assistance to Victims of Unjust Detention in North Korea has decided to offer consolation money to the affected families, as stipulated by Article 6 of the Act on Remuneration and Assistance to Victims of believed to be taken by North Korea after the Conclusion of the Military Armistice Agreement.
The compensation ranges from 15 million to 20 million KRW per family, calculated based on the monthly minimum wage and the period of citizen, with a maximum limit of 36 times the monthly minimum wage at the time of the payment decision. This financial support aims to provide some relief to families who have endured significant hardships.
This gesture signifies the government’s commitment to support its citizens in distress and is intended to alleviate the suffering of these families. They underscore the commitment to protecting its people and reuniting them with their families. As the international community rallies behind these efforts, we hope for a swift resolution to these ongoing humanitarian concerns and the safe return of all those who have been unjustly detained.