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On a rainy night in fall 1996, a Japan-born tractor driver in North Korea dived into the fast and muddy current of the Yalu River on the border with China in a last-ditch attempt to escape the hunger and poverty that had plagued his family for decades.

A couple of months later, he returned to Japan for the first time in 36 years. Now, more than six years on, his desperate hope of helping his family remains unrealized.

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