미국 국회 하원 청문회 증언문(영문)
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Testimony of Mi-il LEE

President, Korean War Abductees Family Union (KWAFU)
House Committee on International Relations
Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific
April 27th, 2006

First of all, ladies and gentlemen and distinguished members of Congress, I would like to convey my gratitude on behalf of our organization, the Korean War Abductees Family Union(KWAFU), for giving me this very precious opportunity to testify about the issue of Korean War abductees.

It is important to point out that North Korean abductions of civilians did not begin in the 1970’s in Japan, but much earlier -with a large-scale abducting of South Korean civilians during the Korean War in 1950. The number of Korean War abductees is a staggering eighty-two thousand, nine hundred fifty-nine (82,959), according to government documents of the Republic of Korea (ROK) published in 1952.

The Korean War, which started with a sudden invasion from the North, has yet to be fully concluded, despite a half century of an uneasy cease-fire. Because of this excruciatingly long state of limbo, the enduring images of fathers, husbands, and sons taken by force to the North during the war remain as unhealed wounds in the memories of abductees’ beloved families. Many, both abductees in the North and surviving family members in the South, are gradually passing away from age, exhausted by decades of waiting for news of their loved ones. Where else in the world can such a human tragedy be witnessed: no news at all of loved ones in 56 years?

Because of time limit, the detailed explanation on the plight of the Korean War abductees is given in the testimony document you have received, and now allow me more focus on my father's case which starts on page seven.
As you can see, I am very short. My voice is also very small. It is because my spine got injured during the Korean War in 1950. When I was sick with a high fever during the wartime, my father had already been abducted to North Korea. He was a young businessman in his thirties, and he loved my mother and his three daughters. My mother believed that she would be able to meet him after the war was over. She did her best to save me in order to show him that I was alive, safe and sound.

My mother was a very beautiful and competent woman. She still is. However, the only love in her heart during the last 56 years has been my father, so she is still waiting for him at the same spot where he was taken, being single. She turned 84 already. A few years ago, she had a stroke and it is difficult for her to speak or move around. Still, she is whole-heartedly supporting me with the repatriation movement to bring my father back if he is still alive, or at least his ashes if he is not.

My family has never forgotten about my father. We have consistently been praying for him. Sometimes I think that God spared my life so that I could do this work for my father. I could not attend elementary school until I became a fifth grader and the middle school I wanted to attend rejected me for my disability, but I survived with my mother’s hope. I believe that my father will make his way back since my mother never gave up on her hope.

As I said earlier, my voice is very small. Some of you may feel uncomfortable because of my small voice. But I trust in God who brought me here to the Congress of the United States to testify before you so as to find my father, even with my weakness. I rely on God’s mighty hands to ask all of you here for your help.

My mother told me that after the United Nations and the Korean army had recovered Seoul, she made up her mind to die with her three daughters upon finding my father’s body. But when she went to the prison to which my father had been taken away, it was empty and she became aware of the fact that my father had been abducted to North Korea. Because of hope that my father would be alive, she hoped to live again and she has led her life in that hope.

Honorable members of Congress
I urge you to help us bring back the large number of people who had been abducted to North Korea including my father. I feel that the only country that could put pressure on North Korea with nuclear issues or human rights issues is the United States. I ask for your help, for the sake of the human rights of those who had been abducted during the Korean War which the United States and the United Nations have come together to support.

The remaining wives whose husbands had been taken away were put in tragic situations to leave their children with orphanages because they were not financially able. Even so, they did their best to find their husbands and sons back. There was no progress; however, because North Korea kept on saying, “we have not kidnapped anyone.” Lives that are stained with memories full of tears, sweat and blood are common to us, the families who have our loved ones taken away. What we are hoping for is to be able to show those members of our dear families that we have been waiting for them and we still love them. Our hope has always prevailed against despair.

Many people tried to stop me from coming here. Some said it is already a history and some others were doubtful of what the United States could do.

But, how can those become history while our voice is still so loud, to find our lost ones? In September 2002, Kim Jung-Il, the chief of the state said that he would try to find the missing during the War; however, there was no progress. As you know, he does not seem to keep his promises. However, we are very inspired by the fact that the Japanese brought their people back in their collaborative effort.

I believe that there is nothing impossible as long as we do not despair. It sounds like a cliche but it is still the most important principle for us. It is difficult to overcome that despair sometimes when members of the families pass away, one by one. Three years ago, a 94-year-old mother died in waiting for her son. Last year, a 90-year-old wife passed away who raised seven children alone, not knowing whether her dear husband was alive or dead. These days, people in my children’s generation in their sixties and seventies are breathing their last breaths as well. In a hurry, we have begun to put the testimonies on record from last year. I would like to send them to you once they are translated.

The reason that our hearts are not filled with hope only is that we know that there is nothing much we will be able to do other than bringing back the ashes as time goes by. Today as I speak, a 92-year-old mother is waiting for the news of her son who was a student at the time of abducting. Please help the old lady to have a chance to touch the warm hands of her son, whom she sees in her dreams every night. I would also like to show my father how I survived through the horrific war and am well alive. I would like him to let him know how much my mother loved him, and still does, and she has led her life only for him.

My story is not so special. The number of those abducted exceeds 80,000. The number of people working together to bring back the abducted exceeds 700. We have been under surveillance and discriminated against from the South Korean government as Korean peninsula became an extremely hard-fought field of the Cold War.

As South Korea became developed both economically and democratically, we are not concerned about such issues any more. However, there are not many people who understand our issues as human rights issues and actively help out. Our government is not active either.

I tend to run to where there is even a dim light. As I was running here, toward the American Congress, I felt a light stronger than ever. It is because I know that there are at least many faithful servants of God, like House representative Mr. Hyde, who know the importance of one person and one family.

In conclusion, the Korean War has not yet come to an end. The United States probably knows this fact better than anyone. The war, including my own, for which many victims have shed their blood to protect freedom and democracy, will finally be over around the time when my father will come back to us.

I would like to work together with you, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, until the day when my father comes back, the nuclear issues are resolved and political camps like Yo-deok vanishes in North Korea. I express my deepest gratitude to all of you for your patience with me and my small voice. Thank you very much.
 
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