(LEAD) Unification minister slams N. Korea’s abduction, detention of S. Koreans as inhumane

SEOUL, Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho on Wednesday condemned North Korea's abduction and detention of South Korean nationals as an "inhumane" act, vowing the government's utmost efforts to resolve the urgent issue. Kim made the remarks during a meeting with family members of the South Korean victims and chiefs of related advocacy groups, as the unification ministry has created a symbol of South Korean abductees, detainees and prisoners of the 1950-53 Korean War with an image of three forget-me-nots. Earlier in the day, the minister placed the pin featuring the three forget-me-nots on the clothes of eight participants in an event held at the ministry. "This special event was arranged to voice regret over North Korea's inhumane act while not losing the thread of hope that they will come back home someday," Kim said. He said resolving the issue is the nation's responsibility in terms of the protection of the people and requires urgency, noting that President Yoon Suk Yeol, along with other members of the Cabinet, wore the symbolic pin in a Cabinet meeting the previous day and vowed to make the utmost efforts. Currently, six South Koreans are being detained in North Korea, including three missionaries -- Kim Jung-wook, Choi Chun-gil and Kim Kook-kie -- whose whereabouts and fates are unknown. Separately, 516 South Koreans have yet to return home among an estimated 3,835 people who were kidnapped by North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean War, according to government data. At least 60,000 prisoners of war are also estimated to have not come back home after being detained in North Korea. The unification ministry voiced regret that North Korea has maintained an "irresponsible" attitude toward the issue without providing minimum information, such as the fates of the South Korean nationals. "We once again denounce North Korea's illegal and inhumane act and strongly call on the North to clearly understand that the issue is a grave matter for the protection of our people's lives and actively resolve it," ministry sp okesperson Koo Byoung-sam said in a statement. In Britain, a group of cross-party parliamentarians on North Korea joined the move to wear the forget-me-not pins in a sign of solidarity with the South Korean government on resolving the issue. "We urge North Korean authorities to immediately release the current South Korean detainees so they can reunite with their beloved family members," the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea said in a statement issued Tuesday (local time). Source: Yonhap News Agency