South Korea-China-North Korea: For the record. An 81-year-old South Korean prisoner of war from the Korean War is known to have been sent back to North Korea after having been arrested in China in August last year.
The POW fought in the Korean War in the 3rd division of the South Korean Army’s 5th Corps and was captured by North Korean forces in 1952. After years in captivity, he managed to escape North Korea with the help of a South Korean group and a “refugee broker.” The refugee broker who had helped the soldier escape reported him to Chinese police after arguing with the South Korean group over money
The POW was arrested on 24 August last year, eight days after he fled North Korea, according to Dong-A Ilbo.
A source from the South Korean government told The Dong-A Ilbo Monday, “The government has made tremendous diplomatic efforts (to bring him back) but he was eventually sent back to North Korea.”
South Korea had contacted Chinese diplomatic authorities more than 50 times since the South Korean soldier was detained in China (to request his handover to South Korea), but Beijing failed to inform Seoul of his location and health condition. South Korea reportedly pushed China on the matter to the point that it caused diplomatic conflict.
Comment: This report is significant because it and others like it establish that prisoners of war from the Korean War are still alive in captivity in North Korea. At least 8,000 American soldiers are unaccounted from the Korean War and some have been seen in North Korea – some were pulling plows like oxen near Haeryong. They are not defectors or traitors, according to high reliable eyewitnesses.
A second point from this incident is that it is increasingly typical of Chinese treatment of its former tributary states. The North Korean prison system is porous and up for sale. When a prisoner escapes to China, China also wants to be paid to move the person to South Korea because China refuses to give refuge to any escapees from North Korea.
Phi Beta Iota: Long-standing beliefs that there are a number of US Prisoners of War (POW) still alive in Viet-Nam are reinforced by this report of an 81-year-old prisoner escaping from North Korea. Various books listed below address both the Vietnamese strategy of capturing prisoners for ultimate ransom from day one of the war, and the view that the final asking price for the last 1,000 or so was considered “too high” by the US Government, which–with the active consent of Senator John McCain (R-AZ)–was turned down. The remaining prisoners in Viet-Nam remain a political ace in the hole for that nation.