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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Kidnapped S Korean meets family
Choi Gye-wol, left, hugs her son Kim Young-nam 28/6/06
Mother and son will be allowed three days of reunions
A South Korean man believed to have been kidnapped by North Korea in 1978 has been allowed to meet his mother and sister for the first time.

The meeting was part of three days of mass reunions for families divided since the Korean War.

Kim Young-nam's case has been followed especially closely because, while in the North, he married a Japanese woman, Megumi Yokota, who was also kidnapped.

That case has poisoned relations between Japan and North Korea.

"I am very happy to see you are so healthy," Mr Kim told his mother as the two hugged, South Korean TV reported.

"Stop crying, why do you cry on such a happy day?"

Mr Kim then bowed deeply in front of his mother, appearing to seek forgiveness for not having seen her for so long.

They and other divided families will now be allowed three days of strictly controlled meetings, according to the BBC's Charles Scanlon in Seoul.

Given up for dead

Kim Young-nam vanished from a beach at the age of 16 in 1978.

He is one of nearly 500 South Koreans who are believed to have been taken by the North, many of them used to train North Korean spies

Kim Young-nam in an undated photo
Nearly 500 South Koreans and at least 13 Japanese snatched in the 1970s and 80s
Used as cultural trainers for N Korean spies
Five Japanese allowed home in 2002, Japan believes more still alive

Mr Kim was at first given up for dead. But investigative work by Japanese officials revealed he had been kidnapped by North Korean agents and was still alive and well.

He was married and had fathered a daughter with Megumi Yokota, a Japanese girl who was kidnapped at the age of 13 from the coast near her home in Japan.

The North Koreans say she later committed suicide. But her parents do not believe it and are desperate for any information from Mr Kim.

The daughter, now 18, is expected to be present at the meetings, but it is doubtful she will be able to speak freely.

North Korea has not acknowledged the kidnapping of any South Koreans, saying that they were willing defectors.

But the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, did admit and apologise for the abduction of 13 Japanese citizens.

Five have since been released. Most were used to teach Japanese language and customs to North Korean spies.

See the emotional reunion which took place

Mother's plea for N Korea abductee
12 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Mystery of Japan abductee deepens
11 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan wants N Korean spies held
23 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Heartbreak over Japan's missing
09 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
S Koreans lost to the North
26 Nov 03 |  Asia-Pacific

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