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Enforced disappearance is a serious crime that continues to be committed until the fate and whereabouts of every disappeared person has been clarified, and consequently the individual criminal responsibility also extends over those who currently have control of the crime. Enforced disappearances, including in the form of international abductions, remain a serious concern in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with the whereabouts of thousands of individuals remaining unknown. The Government of the Republic of Korea officially recognizes 516 of its citizens as post-war abductees, while tens of thousands were abducted during the Korean War. The Government of Japan recognizes 12 abductees from Japan, who remain unaccounted for. In addition, a number of other foreign nationals were abducted, mainly in late 1970s and early 1980s. As at May 2021, the Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances had submitted a total of 330 cases – 281 men and 49 women – to the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. None of the cases have been clarified. Despite numerous commitments, the plight and pain of the separated families continue. Since August 2018, no family reunion events and exchanges of video messages has happened.


TORN APART: The Human Rights Dimension of the Involuntary Separation of Korean Families