[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
N Korea admits South kidnappings
Five former Japanese abductees feed ducks, December 2002
Five Japanese also snatched by the North returned in 2002
North Korea has admitted it is holding 21 South Koreans either captured during the 1950-53 Korean War or subsequently, the South Korean government has said.

Seoul had pressed the North about 52 POWs and 51 citizens it believes were abducted after the war.

Seoul has been raising the issue for decades, but has recently been wary of campaigning too hard for fear of damaging relations, analysts say.

It is not clear why the normally secretive North Korea has responded.

"North Korea has confirmed there are 11 abductees and 10 prisoners of war alive in the North," a South Korean Unification Ministry official told Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity.

Of the other South Koreans whom Seoul had inquired about, the North said 10 kidnapped citizens and six POWs were dead, and the rest unaccounted for.

Many people in South Korea believe around 1,000 South Koreans are alive in the North.

These include more than 540 POWs, according to the Red Cross.

Reunions

A number of the kidnapped South Koreans will be able to see their families again during the next round of reunions between relatives who ended up on different sides of the Korean border after the war ended, Yonhap news agency reported. This is scheduled for 5-10 November.

Japan also believes its citizens are being held in the North against their will.

It has been much more vociferous in its inquiries, and in 2002 Pyongyang admitted it had abducted 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s, but said eight of them had since died.

The five still alive returned to Japan three years ago, but Tokyo questions whether the others are really dead, and believes there may be yet more held captive in the North.




SEE ALSO:
S Koreans lost to the North
26 Nov 03 |  Asia-Pacific
North Korea pressed on South's missing
20 Sep 02 |  Asia-Pacific
Heartbreak over Japan's missing
07 Oct 03 |  Asia-Pacific


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific