A South Korean man believed to have been kidnapped by North Korea 28 years ago was allowed to meet his mother and sister last week at Mount Kumgang in North Korea. Mr. Kim Young Nam (also known as Kim Chol Jun) is thought to be the man who married Ms. Megumi Yokota of Niigata, who was kidnapped by North Korean agents in November 1978.
The man, now remarried, spoke of himself and Ms. Yokota, but his “explanations” only deepen suspicions about the fate of Ms. Yokota. Miss Kim Hye Gyong, the daughter of Ms. Yokota, also attended the Mount Kumgang meeting.
Mr. Kim denied that he had been kidnapped by North Korea in August 1978, as claimed by the South Korean government. Instead, he said, he was rescued by a North Korean boat while his own small boat was adrift at sea. He said Ms. Yokota killed herself on April 13, 1994, at a hospital, adding that she was schizophrenic due to brain damage suffered in childhood. Yet, a letter sent in the name of Kim Chol Jun to Ms. Yokota’s parents in 2002 had said she died in 1993. Now Mr. Kim is quoted by his sister as saying he had dictated the letter to another person.
Mr. Kim criticized the Japanese government’s use of a DNA analysis of cremated remains received from North Korea in 2004 to state that they were not of Ms. Yokota. He called it an “insult to me and Megumi” and “a violation of human rights.” Mr. Kim is quoted by his sister as saying it is conceivable that the remains of other people were mixed in with those of his late wife.
It must be remembered that during the second summit in 2004 between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korea leader Kim Jong Il, the latter promised to re-investigate the kidnapping issue. In letting Mr. Kim meet his family, North Korea may be trying to drive a wedge between Japan and South Korea. The first thing that Pyongyang should do is restart the investigation and tell the truth — not only to Japan but also to the international community.
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