Korean Freikauf model
Many Koreans last week came to know, or were reminded of, a German word that may have been  obliterated  from  the  memory  of  most Germans.
In a parliamentary audit session,  unification  minister  Ryoo  Kihl-jae  said  that  Seoul  was  looking  into  the  feasibility of adopting the Freikauf model as a tool to bring back South Koreans held in North Korea.
The policy, which means “buying freedom”, was implemented by West Germany during  the  Cold  War  era  to secure the  release  of East German political prisoners to enable them to come to the West.
The  minister  made  the  remark   in   response   to   a  question  from  an  opposition  party  lawmaker  about whether the government intended to introduce a “Korean version of Freikauf” for the repatriation of South Korean prisoners of war and abductees detained by Pyongyang for decades.
Most commentators here have given little credence to the will of the Seoul government to push for the policy, which they note is implausible under the current circumstances surrounding inter-Koreans relations.
The unification ministry was  said  to  have  suggested  adopting  the  Freikauf  method  in  its  report  to  the  transition  committee  for  then  President-elect  Park  Geun-hye  in  January.
With inter-Korean ties strained after a brief sign of thaw  following  a  deal  to  reopen  a  joint  factory  park  in the North last month, it may appear somewhat out of tune to address the formula likely to be shunned by the oppressive regime in Pyongyang.
But the renewed interest in the German model is meaningful at least in bolstering our dwindled attention to hundreds of South Korean POWs and abductees and hundreds of thousands of political prisoners in the North.
The Korea Herald