In 1969 North Korea hijacked a plane and kidnapped the passengers and crew. 39 passengers were eventually released. The fate of the crew plus 7 passengers is still unknown.
“The Korean Air Lines YS-11 hijacking occurred on 11 December 1969. The aircraft, a Korean Air Lines NAMC YS-11 flying a domestic route from Gangneung Airbase in Gangneung, Gangwon-do to Gimpo International Airport in Seoul, washijacked at 12:25 PM by North Korean agent . It was carrying four crewmembers and 46 passengers (excluding Cho); 39 of the passengers were returned two months later, but the crew and seven passengers remained in North Korea, seen in the South as an example of North Korean abductions of South Koreans.
According to passenger testimony, one of the passengers rose from his seat 10 minutes after takeoff and entered the cockpit, following which the aircraft changed direction and was joined by three North Korean fighter jets. The aircraft landed at Sǒndǒk Airfield near Wonsan at 1:18 PM. North Korean soldiers boarded the aircraft afterwards, blindfolded the passengers, and instructed them to disembark. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair on landing. A member of the United States Air Force In South Korea was scheduled to be a passenger on the ill-fated flight, but instead caught a military transport flight at the last minute.
North Korea claimed that the pilots had flown the aircraft there to protest the policies of then-President of South Korea Park Chung-hee. The passengers were subjected to attempts at indoctrination for up to four hours a day. The South Korean police initially suspected that the co-pilot conspired with two North Korean agents in the hijacking. The night after the hijacking, 100,000 South Koreans held a mass rally in freezing weather to protest the hijacking, and burned an effigy of Kim Il-sung.
On 25 December, North Korea proposed to hold talks on the matter. Talks were finally held in late January 1970. Sixty-six days after the incident, North Korea released 39 of the passengers on 14 February through the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom, but kept the aircraft, crew, and remaining passengers. The statements provided by the released passengers refuted North Korea’s claims that the hijacking was led by the pilots; instead, they pinned the blame on one of the passengers. One man claimed to have looked out the window of the aircraft despite instructions from the North Korean guards, and saw the hijacker being driven away in a black sedan. Another passenger was reported to have become mentally deranged as a result of his captivity, and lost the ability to speak.