Japanese, other abductees ‘under watch’ in Pyongyang

Kyodo

A Japanese woman kidnapped by North Korea is under special surveillance in Pyongyang along with 50 abductees from the South, as ordered by leader Kim Jong Un, a support group for kin of South Korean abductees said Tuesday.

The head of the support group, Choi Song Ryong, cited a source versed in the situation in Pyongyang. The Japanese abductee is believed to be Kyoko Matsumoto from Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, who was 29 at the time of her disappearance in 1977.

According to an analysis released by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service in July, Matsumoto lived in the northeastern city of Chongjin before moving several years ago to the North Korean capital.

Choi said last year that Matsumoto had been moved from Chongjin to Pyongyang in 2011. According to the source, Matsumoto and other abductees were gathered in the Sunan district of Pyongyang sometime after April 2012, when Kim assumed the post of the first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Matsumoto’s place of residence may have changed since then.

Kim issued the instruction for special surveillance after the state of human rights in North Korea garnered international attention, according to the source. In May last year, a U.N. agency determined that a South Korean woman and her two daughters sent to a forced labor camp in North Korea were in arbitrary detention.

The sources said the North Korean authorities summoned a Japanese believed to be Matsumoto, a foreigner of unknown nationality, and about 50 South Koreans who worked for the Workers’ Party and other organizations, to put them under surveillance.