Saturday, January 28, 2006

South Korea to Invite Isang Yun’s Wife

From The Korea Times:

By Park Song-wu - 01-26-2006 18:16

The Isang Yun Peace Foundation said on Thursday that it will try to invite Yun's widow, Lee Soo-ja, from Pyongyang to South Korea this year as Seoul’s apology is expected to come in the near future for falsely charging him with espionage in 1960s.

The foundation, launched last year to restore the honor of dissident Korean-German composer Isang Yun (1917-1995), welcomed the announcement by Seoul’s intelligence agency that it concocted a pro-Pyongyang spy ring in 1967, in which Yun was charged unjustly.
``Lee has always said that she would come to South Korea if Seoul officially apologizes for the false charge,’’ Chang Yong-chul, the foundation’s secretary-general, told The Korea Times.
``She is now 79. She wants to see her hometown,’’ he said.

The foundation tried to invite her last year to mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of Yun and the 60th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.
But Lee, who is living in Pyongyang together with her daughter Djong, 56, declined to come to South Korea, citing the lack of an apology from the government as the reason.
``We had corresponded with Lee last year and she expressed her hope to freely move between South Korea, North Korea and Germany, where the Yun family also has a home in Berlin,’’ Chang said.
Yun Tong-hwa, the composer’s 76-year-old sister who is living in Seoul, told the Yonhap news agency that ``the truth always wins.’’
``My brother suffered a lot even after returning to Berlin because many South Koreans there accused him of helping the enemy (North Korea),’’ she said. ``Even though he passed away, I am so relieved that now he is free from such false charges.’’

The foundation plans to host an art festival in Seoul in March to pay tribute to the three most suffered victims of the East Berlin spy ring case, including Yun and poet Chun Sang-byung.
Yun was a respected composer in Germany for his ability to bring Taoist philosophy and Buddhism to life in Western-style music. At the same time, he is also known as a victim of South Korea's redbaiting.

Since he left for France to study music in 1956 and moved to Germany the following year, he could never return to South Korea in his life time _ except once in June 1967 when he was kidnapped from West Berlin and brought to Seoul, tortured and then forced to make a false statement that he was working as a spy for North Korea through its embassy in East Berlin.
Yun received a life sentence, but he returned to Germany in March 1969. His release was reportedly possible thanks to the German government’s threat to sever diplomatic ties with South Korea.

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