One night in June 1980, Radio Pyongyang broadcast an apparently random five-digit number — 29627.
As it turned out, the number was a coded message to a North Korean agent. Denoting June 27, 1929, the birthday of North Korean agent Sin Guang Su, it was a code to execute an abduction order. The next day, Tadaaki Hara, was taken at the age of 43 to a North Korean spy ship from Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture, never to return.
Sin, now 73, was arrested in South Korea in 1985 on espionage charges and later sentenced to death. In 2000, he was granted amnesty by the South Korean government and sent back to North Korea.
Now, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department plans to seek an international arrest warrant for Sin for allegedly violating Japan’s passport law. It is, however, anybody’s guess whether North Korea will extradite Sin to Japan.
According to the South Korean court, Sin was a second-generation Korean in Japan, born in Shizuoka Prefecture. He traveled to the Korean Peninsula in 1945 and became a North Korean spy in 1971.
In late February 1980, Sin received an order at a spy training center in North Korea. His mission: to acquire legal status in Japan and spy on South Korea.
Sin was, in effect, ordered to abduct a Japanese similar to his age and assume the victim’s identity so he could establish a cover to operate in Japan and South Korea.
A Japan-born North Korean who ran a Chinese restaurant in Osaka came up with what Sin was looking for: A middle-aged coworker whose parents were dead, who had no wife and no children, had never traveled abroad and had no criminal records. His name was Tadaaki Hara.
Sin brought Hara to a posh restaurant near Osaka Station in June 1980 and offered him a job at a trading house.
Sin told Hara the company’s president had a cottage in Kyushu and took him on a trip there. At a hotel in Beppu-Oita, Sin tuned in to Radio Pyongyang and got the coded message.
The next evening, Sin told Hara that they would be taking a boat trip to the cottage. They boarded the North Korean spy boat off Aoshima. The next thing Hara saw was the port of Nampo, North Korea.
To assume Hara’s identity, Sin went to the point of taking a cooking course. After he got back into Japan, Sin obtained a driver’s license and a passport using Hara’s identity, and traveled to France, Switzerland, Thailand and South Korea.
At the Sept. 17 Japanese-North Korean summit, Pyongyang officially declared that Hara had been abducted to North Korea and died in July 1986.
Koichi Hara, his 76-year-old brother, says his heart is filled with anger and sadness, and nothing else. “I no longer have anything to say about Sin Guang Su,” Koichi said.
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