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South Koreans held a memorial rally on Friday for those who have been killed by the communist North. The rally was planned to coincide with North Korea's biggest national holiday -- the birthday of its founder Kim Il-sung.
South Korean protesters held a memorial rally on Friday for those who had been killed by North Korea. The rally coincided with the biggest national holiday in North Korea -- the birthday of its founder Kim Il-sung, a day also known as the "Day of the Sun".
Hundreds of conservative civic group members, along with relatives of those who had been kidnapped by the North, gathered at Imjingak, a border city in Paju, and held a memorial service for those who were killed by the communist country.
[Choo Sun-hee, Korea Parent Federation]:
"We agreed with the residents here to hold a combined memorial rally for victims killed by the North -- the Cheonan ship sinking incident, those kidnapped by the North, South Korean POWs, victims at Yeonpyeong Island attack and sea conflicts between the two Koreas. We are holding this rally on Kim Il-sung's birthday, intentionally."
At the end of the service, 1,000 blue and white balloons, symbolizing the victims' spirits, and six large balloons with messages to the victims, were released into the sky.
Seoul's Representative of the Abductees' Family Union said about 4,000 South Koreans -- mostly fishermen -- were abducted by the North and about 450 are still detained there.
Over 500 South Korean POWs have been held for more than half a century somewhere in North Korea. They are the survivors of what Seoul estimates were about 80,000 South Korean soldiers who were left on the wrong side of a Cold War divide when a cease-fire ended the 1950-53 Korean War.