The abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea.

Shin Suk-ja, the symbol of South Koreans abducted by North Korea

This picture was taken at Yodok concentration camp in North Korea, where Shin Suk-ja and her daughters, Hae-won (top right) and Kyu-won, (foreground) are imprisoned. The father of this family is Oh Kil-nam, a PhD in economics. This is one of the photos Yun I-sang, a South Korean classical composer, gave to Oh Kil-nam, while living as a refugee in Berlin, to persuade him to return to his family in North Korea . Oh Kil-nam has launched a campaign to free his family in Tongyeong, his wife’s hometown. In South Korea, Shin Suk-Ja is now known as «The daughter of Tongyeong.» She has become the symbol of the victims of abduction by North Korea. This campaign has aroused great public interest in South Korea.

Just as Megumi Yokota is the symbol in Japan of those abducted by North Korea, Shin Suk-ja, «The daughter of Tongyeong» is that of South Korea. Her story has generated great interest and allowed the South Korean public opinion to understand the gravity of the crimes of abduction of its citizens by North Korea.
This year, an exhibition of photographs of Shin Suk-ja in the concentration camp for political opponents was organised by university students. This exhibition has travelled throughout South Korea and was the catalyst that revived the campaign in support of Shin Suk-ja. It was especially in her hometown of Tongyeong (Gyeongsang province in the south) that religious representatives and classmates at her school began the movement that has subsequently amplified across the country, triggering the government and members of the south Korean parliament to react. The noble personality of Shin Suk-ja has touched the heart of all Koreans.


Shin Suk-ja left South Korea to work as a nurse in Germany. She met Oh Kil-nam, a young South Korean economics student. The couple got married and had two children. They led a very happy family life.

In 1985, Oh Kil-nam got his doctorate in economics and in December of the same year, he was offered an important position in North Korea by a North Korean agent. Duped by the lies of the spy, he decided to go, taking his family with him, despite his wife’s objections. Once there, Oh Kil-nam and his family were housed in a «foreigner’s residence» where they were brainwashed for three months. From June to November 1986, Oh Kil-nam was forced to work in radio for a propaganda program destined for South Korea called «The Voice of National Salvation.» He was then ordered to abduct two South Korean students in Germany.

Upon learning why her husband was to return to Germany, Shin Suk-ja said to him: «Do not stoop to do something as despicable as betraying your own people by bringing them here to North Korea! If you manage to escape, do it! But do everything to save us once you are free!

On his trip to Germany, Oh Kil-nam managed to escape during his stop-over flight in Copenhagen airport. He then returned to West Germany where he began his campaign to free his wife and two daughters.

In 1991, the North Korean authorities asked the classical composer Yun I-sang, then residing in Germany, to transmit audio recordings of Shin Suk-ja and her daughters to Oh Kil-nam, as well as pictures of them taken in Yodok concentration camp, in order to convince him to return to Pyongyang.