Desperate to save his sons and other relatives, a 56-year-old escapee from North Korea hatched a bold plan to free them by smuggling himself back into the country.

With 800,000 yen in his pocket, the man, known in Japan by the pen name Shunsuke Miyazaki, flew to China in August and made his way to the North Korean border on the Yalu River, which he first crossed in 1996 during his own escape — an ordeal that he published as a memoir in 2000.

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