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September 13, 2013

South Korean Abductee Escapes North After 41 Years

by VOA News

South Korea says one of its citizens has escaped North Korea, 41 years after being kidnapped by Pyongyang while on board a fishing boat.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said Friday that Jeon Wook-pyo has safely returned to the South Korean capital after fleeing the North last month. It offered no details about his escape.

The 68-year-old was one of 25 crew members on board two fishing boats captured by North Korea in 1972. The fate of the others is unknown.

South Korea has accused the North of kidnapping at least 500 of its citizens, mostly fishermen, since the Korean War ended in 1953.

An activist group says South Korean authorities investigated Jeon for two weeks to be sure that he was not sent to spy for the North.

Inter-Korean relations have improved recently, following months of war threats from Pyongyang after international condemnation of its latest nuclear test.

The two sides have agreed to restart a symbolically important joint factory complex on a trial basis. They have also agreed to resume reunions between families separated by the war.