Thirty-nine of the passengers of the South Korean aircraft which was hi-jacked to the North on December 11th, 1969, were returned on Saturday (January 14) at Freedom Bridge in Panmunjom.
Buses arriving at Freedom Bridge; soldiers; motorcycle convoy; passengers in buses crying and waving; crowds on road; man holding burning straw; two passengers being interviewed.
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Background: Thirty-nine of the passengers of the South Korean aircraft which was hi-jacked to the North on December 11th, 1969, were returned on Saturday (January 14) at Freedom Bridge in Panmunjom. Another eight passengers and four crew members were not among those who returned - and the North Korean News Agency has reported that they have asked to stay in the North.
The return of the passengers has followed violent demonstrations throughout South Korea following the North's refusal to release them in spite of appeals not only of the South Korean Government but also of Japanese and United States authorities, the International Red Cross and the United Nations.
At a press conference at Seoul's police headquarters following their release, some of the passengers reported that the hi-jacking had been carried out by a lone North Korean, identifying him as Chang-Hui-Cho, a 42-year-old former member of the South Korean Army. Intelligence sources in Seoul have said he retired from the Army as a non-commissioned military policeman in 1963 - after serving as Commander of an intelligence detachment. The released passengers also said that several of them had been tortured - and one of them, Ho-Kil-Son, of Kangnung, was "mentally deranged and unable to speak after he was separated for 20 days and subjected to torture with electrical devices and drugs".
In spite of the North Korean news Agency announcement about the non-return of the other 12 passengers and crew, South Korean police say that they were forced to remain behind under torture and intimidation.