S. Korean fisherman taken to North in 1972 now in 3rd country

A South Korean fisherman abducted by North Korea while at sea in 1972 fled the North earlier this month and is currently in a third country under the protection of the South Korean government, an activist group said Friday.

Choe Sung Ryong, head of the Abductees' Family Union, disclosed the information at a hearing on the human rights situation in North Korea by the U.N. Human Rights Council, at which North Korean defectors and South Korean abductees are giving testimony.

The man, identified as Jeon Uk Pyo and in his 60s, was abducted to the North on Dec. 28, 1972, along with 24 others.

Choe said Jeon succeeded in fleeing the North on Aug. 11 through a collaborator in the North.

Then, Jeon sent a letter to South Korean President Park Geun Hye seeking assistance, saying he fled the North to spend his remaining days in his hometown.

On Aug. 14, Jeon was placed under the protection of a South Korean government official and is now preparing to reenter South Korea.

A total of 517 South Koreans are listed as abductees to the North, and among them eight have managed to flee the North and enter the South, according to the South Korean government.

Among the South Korean abductees, more than 90 percent are fishermen abducted while at sea. The exact number of the fishermen abductees is not available because documents registering them as fishermen are not available.

In the case of Jeon, he was confirmed as having been abducted in 2010 after Choe saw a group photo of those South Korean abductees taken in North Korea in 1974 while undergoing reeducation, Choe said.