By Kim Sue-young
A prisoner of war (POW) escaped from North Korea 55 years after being captured and is currently staying in China awaiting entry to South Korea, the association of abductees' family members said Tuesday.
Kim Jin-soo, 74, who fought in the Korean War (1950-53) at the age of 17, crossed the Tumen River on June 14 and is now in China, Choi Sung-yong, leader of the association, told a press conference in Seoul.
Choi said Kim was taken to the Stalinist state with a gunshot wound before the armistice was signed in July 1953. The South Korean army reported he was dead and included him in the roll of fallen soldiers.
After being dragged to the reclusive state, Kim received medical treatment in Pyongyang and was dispatched to coal mines including the Sanghatan mine in North Pyeongan Province for nearly 40 years. In the early 1990s, he did farming in North Hamgyeong Province, Choi said.
Kim, who was single when he joined the army, married in the North and had four daughters and one son. Even though all of his family members are alive, he could not escape from North Korea with them.
His brothers are living in the South but his parents had already passed away, according to Choi.
The POW sent President Lee Myung-bak a written petition last Tuesday to ask for help.
Choi also urged the authorities and citizens to help save abductees and POWs.
Describing Kim's condition, ``he was 150-centimeters tall when he participated in the war but now he has shrunk to 140-centimeters and weighs only 35 kilograms. We should recognize the pain of POWs who work in coalmines for about 40 years,'' Choi said.
Saying most of the POWs are old, Choi claimed that North Korea should send them back to their hometowns and South Korean should begin negotiations over their repatriation.