• Kyodo


Kim Young Nam on Thursday again backed Pyongyang’s claim that Megumi Yokota is dead and denied he had made comments that raised doubts about the veracity of North Korea’s account of her fate.

In his first news conference with the Japanese media, the South Korean described his marriage to the Japanese abductee as initially happy, but one in which some topics — including how she ended up in the North — were never breached.

Kim showed reporters two photos — one of him and Yokota he claimed was taken shortly after their wedding and another of the couple and their daughter, Kim Eun Gyong (Hye Gyong).

Kim told South Korean reporters last week, after meeting his mother, Choi Gye Wol, and sister, Kim Young Nam, for the first time since he disappeared 28 years ago that Yokota committed suicide in 1994. He also told them he wasn’t kidnapped to the North but instead was “rescued” by North Korean fishermen after he fell asleep in a boat he used to escape bullies on a beach in the South.

“I am Megumi’s husband, and I am saying (she is dead). Why do you need physical evidence?” Kim told the Japanese media when asked if he had a way to back up his claim.

Kim denied telling his sister that Yokota was involved in a car accident when she was 3, as reported earlier from comments made by his sister. He linked the accident to her depression, which Pyongyang claims led to her suicide. Yokota’s mother, Sakie, claims she had never been in a car accident.

Kim told the Japanese reporters that Yokota had complained of headaches and said the reason may have been head injuries she sustained as a child, however, “Whether that was from a car accident or not, I don’t remember.”

Kim also denied that he told his mother and sister that he thought it was possible the ashes Japan received from North Korea, purported to have been Yokota’s remains, may have been mixed with someone else’s remains.

Japan claims DNA tests on the cremated remains prove they were not Yokota’s, but instead two other people. It has become one of the main points of contention between the two countries.

“I was very excited when I met with my mother and sister, but I don’t remember saying that,” Kim claimed.

“What I told them is that there were times while I had the urn that I touched the ashes. If someone else’s (DNA) was found in the ashes, why wasn’t mine found as well?”

Kim also said he never asked Yokota if or how she was abducted.

“I work in a special unit, and there is a rule where I work — no one asks or tries to find out about the other person’s past,” he said. “I did not ask Megumi how she came to North Korea, and she did not say. It simply was not talked about.”

He said he met Yokota to learn Japanese, but did not use the language with her after they married as she spoke Korean fluently.

Kim said Yokota’s parents should visit Pyongyang if they want to hear from him about what happened to their daughter — something they said they will not do.

“I am here. They can meet me here,” he said. “There is no need to make things complicated.”

Kim Eun Gyong joined her father for the last five minutes of the news conference and also asked her grandparents to visit Pyongyang.

“Please visit if you really want to meet your granddaughter,” she said.

When he met his mom and sister last week, Kim brought his second wife and their son, as well as Kim Eun Gyong.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.