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Seoul asks Beijing to release POW

Nov. 20, 2003 at 6:48 PM

SEOUL, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- South Korean officials have formally asked China to release a 72-year-old North Korean defector who claims to be a former war prisoner.

The Korea Times reported Chinese authorities arrested Chon Young-il, his wife and several others Monday at an eastern China airport for trying to leave for South Korea using forged passports.

Chon claims he is a former South Korean soldier who was not repatriated after the Korean War. The South Korean government learned of Chon's arrest from a civic group that is assisting him.

The newspaper said about 1,186 South Korean prisoners of war are believed to have been detained by North Korea during the 1950-1953 Korean War. Thirty-two of them have defected to South Korea since 1994.

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