September 23, 2023

71 years later, prisoners of war in North Korea are still waiting to return home

POWs have long been an afterthought in Seoul’s inter-Korean policy, and those still alive are running out of time

From inside a prison camp in Kangdong county, Yoo Young-bok watched as artillery shells lit up the night sky, a celebration of North Korea’s “victory” in the Korean War, and felt a hope spark inside him.

“We will be able to go back home soon,” he thought on that evening in 1953, anticipating an exchange of North and South Korean prisoners of war (POWs) like himself. He would be able to see his father and younger sister soon enough.