Key Moments in Korean History on January 15

Seoul, South Korea – Today marks several significant events in Korean history, with pivotal developments spanning from high-profile defections to international relations and dramatic rescue operations.

According to Yonhap News Agency, on January 15, 1987, Doctor Kim Man-cheol, along with 10 family members, defected from North Korea. Leaving the eastern port of Chongjin, the family reached Seoul on February 8 after transiting through Japan and Taiwan.

In the realm of diplomatic progress, South Korea and Algeria agreed to establish diplomatic relations on this day in 1990. This move represented a significant step in South Korea's expanding global engagement.

The year 2008 witnessed a notable political event when Kim Man-bok, then head of the National Intelligence Service, offered his resignation. This followed the leak of information about a conversation with his North Korean counterpart during a visit to Pyongyang, on the eve of South Korea's 2017 presidential election.

A dramatic rescue operation unfolded on January 15, 2011, when the Samho Jewelry, a South Korean chemical freighter, was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea. The 21 crew members, including eight South Koreans, were en route to Sri Lanka from the United Arab Emirates. A successful raid by South Korean Navy commandos on January 30, 2011, resulted in the rescue of all crew members and the capture of five Somali pirates. These pirates were brought to South Korea for trial, with the leader sentenced to life imprisonment and the others receiving sentences of 12 to 15 years.

In 2013, the South Korean government announced plans to expand its ministry structure under the incoming Park Geun-hye administration. This expansion included the creation of a "Ministry of Creativity and Science" and the revival of the maritime and fisheries affairs ministry, along with the introduction of an economic vice prime minister position.

Further enhancing inter-Korean relations, North Korea agreed to send a 140-member art troupe to South Korea for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, as confirmed during working-level talks between the two Koreas in 2018.

Finally, a tragic event occurred on January 15, 2022, when a passenger aircraft operated by Yeti Airlines crashed in a resort town in Nepal. Among the 68 passengers aboard, two South Koreans were confirmed to have perished in the accident.

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