DATE=9/1/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=KOREAS - SPY REPATRIATION (L) NUMBER=2-266043 BYLINE=ALISHA RYU DATELINE=HONG KONG CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: As part of the landmark summit accord reached between the two Koreas in June, South Korea on Saturday will return North Koreans convicted years ago for spying for the communist North. But as VOA's Alisha Ryu reports, many in the South are criticizing the Seoul government for failing to secure the return of South Korean prisoners of war and detainees in return. TEXT: Sixty-three elderly North Koreans are scheduled to cross the heavily fortified border Saturday to return to homes they have not seen in decades. Among the men - who have served an average of 36 years in South Korean prisons for spying activities - is 70 year-old Woo Yong Gak - freed last year after spending 41 years in solitary confinement. He was considered the world's longest-serving political prisoner. But the homecoming will be a bittersweet occasion for some of the former prisoners. They are forced to leave behind their wives and children in South Korea. About 20 North Koreans offered repatriation have chosen to remain in the South with their families. In Seoul, the move to repatriate North Koreans is raising angry questions about the fate of South Koreans believed to be living in North Korea against their will. Demanding a matching gesture by Pyongyang, opposition party members are calling for an immediate return of some three hundred prisoners of war and more than four hundred South Korean citizens North Korea abducted over the past five decades of Cold War hostility. The majority of these victims were fishermen who strayed across the contested sea border. The Seoul government says some of its kidnapped citizens have been spotted in recent years appearing on North Korean propaganda broadcasts. The issue of repatriating South Koreans has reportedly been raised during the second round of ministerial- level talks in Pyongyang due to conclude Friday. But it is not known how North Korea has responded. South Korea expects its repatriation gesture to lead to more cooperation and eventual reconciliation between the two sides. North and South Korea did not sign a peace treaty at the end of the Korean War in 1953 and still remain technically at war. (Signed) NEB/HK/AR/GC/PLM NEB/ 01-Sep-2000 06:36 AM EDT (01-Sep-2000 1036 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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