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Trilateral project to return Korean remains from Japan launched

By Elizabeth Shim
Japanese Buddhist monks and civic groups during a memorial service for forced Korean laborers at Tendokuji Temple on Iki Island in Nagasaki, Japan in May 2018. The issue of Korean forced laborers is being tackled by a civic group in South Korea. File Photo by Yonhap
Japanese Buddhist monks and civic groups during a memorial service for forced Korean laborers at Tendokuji Temple on Iki Island in Nagasaki, Japan in May 2018. The issue of Korean forced laborers is being tackled by a civic group in South Korea. File Photo by Yonhap

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The third son of former President Kim Dae-jung is launching a public interest group that will work to repatriate the remains of Koreans forced into labor during Japanese rule.

Kim Hong-gul, the chairman of the South Korean group Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, said Friday the issue of forced laborer remains will be tackled by stakeholders in North and South Korea, as well as in Japan, News 1 reported.

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Kim's group will subsequently hold a joint press conference on Monday at 3 p.m. in Tokyo, according to the report.

In July, Kim traveled to North Korea for four days, where he met with members of North Korea's Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly.

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The two sides agreed to jointly pursue the repatriation of the laborers' remains.

The pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryun, has agreed to work jointly with Kim's group, with other unnamed Japanese civic groups.

"I sincerely hope that the Japanese government and the Japanese people will stay open minded about the establishment of a joint South, North Korea, Japan organization, and its related projects," Kim said.

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Civic movements toward North Korea engagement are coming at a time when South Korea's presidential Blue House is commemorating the 100-day anniversary of the Panmunjom Declaration.

The agreement signed at the border on April 27 has brought "peace to everyday life in South Korea," the Blue House said in a prepared statement to reporters, Yonhap reported.

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of a peace regime will be pursued based on cooperation with the international community and public consensus, the government said.

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