After a 28-year separation, a South Korean woman is scheduled to reunite with her son who was reportedly abducted by North Korea.
The reunion comes amid tensions between Tokyo and Pyongyang over the fate of a Japanese woman also kidnapped by the communist state.
The South Korean abductee, Kim Young-nam, 45, is presumed to have been kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1978 when he was a teenager. He is believed to have married Megumi Yokota, an abducted Japanese woman whose case has become a focus of Japan's anger at Pyongyang for snatching its citizens.
Yokota was 13 when North Korean agents kidnapped her in 1977.
Kim's mother, Choi Kye-wol, 82, and his sisters left Tuesday for Mt. Kumgang in North Korea, where the 14th round of inter-Korean family reunions is underway, to meet Kim.
A Unification Ministry official said Kim will bring along Hyegyeong, the daughter he supposedly had with Yokota, as well as his new wife and children.
"I was so excited that I couldn't sleep. It would have been good if Young-nam's father was alive," Choi said before leaving for the North Korean mountain resort.
She took cosmetics for her granddaughter as well as a carton each of American and Japanese cigarettes for her son, saying, "I heard he likes them."
The reunion is part of a Red Cross-sponsored program to reunite separated families of the two Koreas. Choi is included in the fourth batch of some 100 South Korean families traveling to the North for the reunion sessions until June 30.
Pyongyang has said Yokota married a North Korean man in 1986 and gave birth to Hyegyeong.
It said the Japanese woman committed suicide in 1994 while being treated for depression.
The North handed over what it claimed were Yokota's remains to the Japanese government, but DNA testing on the remains indicated they belonged to someone else. Tokyo believes Yokota is still alive in the reclusive North.
Tokyo and Washington have increased pressure on North Korea to account for the abduction issue, while Seoul has pursued quiet diplomacy not to provoke the North.
Some South Korean officials expressed concerns the meeting may only help solidify the North's previous claims that Japan's DNA tests were flawed, if not manipulated.
"The North Korean side seems to have a lot to say through Kim's mouth," a ministry official at the site of family reunions told reporters.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
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