Wie Spät Ist Es In Nordkorea

It was after sunset ~ above a crisp november evening wie Megumi Yokota left produziert last badminton practice. Spicy winds chilled the fishing port of Niigata, and the grey sea rumbled weist its brink.

Du schaust: Wie spät ist es in nordkorea


Megumi, 13, with her book-bag and badminton racquet, stated goodbye kommen sie two friends 800ft from her parents' front door. But she never ever reached it.


As sechs o'clock ended up being seven and the quiet street failed to produce produziert daughter, Sakie Yokota began to panic. She ich renne weg to the gym at Yorii center School, expecting to meet her en route.


Police, tracker dogs, torches splitting the darkness. Lock scoured a surrounding pine forest calling Megumi's name. Sakie sped down die road to die beach, frantically scanning every vehicle parked nearby.


It do sense to search die shoreline. But perhaps miscellaneous stronger und more ineffable drove the mother to ns water's edge that night.


Out on die Sea des Japan, out des Sakie's sight, a boat manned von North oriental agents was speeding towards die Korean Peninsula with a terrified schoolgirl locked in the hold.


The crime was deswegen brazen und bizarre that few would even imagine it, let alone settle it. However over ns years, it became clear that Megumi was not the only victim.


The Japanese federal government says the from 1977 until at least 1983, North oriental agents abducted 17 Japanese citizens. Part analysts glauben the true figure can be more than 100.



In die year that adhered to Megumi's disappearance, polizei poured 3,000 employee days into die search. A kidnapping unit occupied the Yokota house. Patrol watercrafts cross-hatched die sea.


Megumi's father Shigeru paced ns sand every morning. Hinweisen night, that cried bei the bath. Sakie cried wie man she was alone, hoping Megumi's brothers, twins aged nine, wouldn't listen her.


A dark sand-timer had actually turned over zum the Yokota family. Weil das years, castle tried simply to endure die void.


A North oriental spy that defected to die South in 1993 said Seoul in detail about in abducted Japanese frau who matched herstellung description. "I remember produziert very clearly," said Ahn Myong-jin. "I was young, und she was beautiful."


The kidnapping was in unplanned blunder, that said. No-one had actually meant kommen sie take a kid. Two agents finishing trost a spy aufgabe to Niigata had been wait on the beach zum a pick-up boat, wie they establish they'd been spotted from the road. Fearing discovery, they grabbed die figure. Megumi was tall weil das her age, and in the darkness they couldn't tell she was a child.


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Image source, getty Images
Megumi pictured aged 13 (right), and an a picture danach provided by North Korea, which alleged the it shows herstellung aged 20

She arrived in North Korea ~ 40 hrs locked in a pitch-black warehouse room, Ahn said, herstellung fingernails torn and bloody indigenous trying to claw her way out. The agents who took herstellung were chastised zum their negative judgement. She was auch young; what usage did castle have for a little girl?


Megumi cried zum her mother und refused kommen sie eat, unnerving produziert state minders. To soothe her, they promised the if she functioned hard and learned expert Korean, she would certainly be allowed zu go home.


It was a lie zu fool a ruined child. Her captors had no together intention. Instead, north Korea would pressure Megumi zu work together a spy trainer, to teach Japanese language und behaviour at in elite school zum espionage.

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For this zu happen when would it is in extraordinary. But die bungled abduction collection a kind of precedent bei North Korea.


The country's future leader kim Jong-il, then head of its intelligence services, wanted zu expand his spy programme. Kidnapped foreigners weren't just useful as teachers. They can be spies themselves, or Pyongyang can steal your identities weil das false passports. They might marry other foreigners (something forbidden to North Koreans), und their children, too, might serve ns regime.


The beaches of japan were full of ordinary people, ripe for abduction, that would stand no chance against highly-trained agents.



"People think i don't remember much about my sister... But i do plainly remember her, even though ich was der dritte tag or 4th grade in elementary school."


When Megumi's younger brother, Takuya Yokota, und his twin Tetsuya were nine, the polizei hunting for Megumi proved them martial arts videos, urging them - "don't acquire beaten - be strong."


Every day zum 43 years, he has actually tried to heed that advice. Now 52, the sits an a business suit holding a copy des a postcard his sister sent out before herstellung kidnapping. Punkt the ende she wrote, "I'll be house soon!! you re welcome wait."


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Takuya Yokota, one des Megumi's younger brothers, holds a copy von a new year postcard she sent out as a child

"I was very worried, but somehow ich went kommen sie bed and got up bei the morning - every day, kommen sie find that she was missing. I gott up, und I blieb couldn't uncover her."


For the zuerst two years after Megumi disappeared, the Yokotas had nothing yet a cold case and their own desperate need kommen sie understand what had actually happened.


They tried zu guess exactly how she might be ageing. She had actually been tall weist 13; was she still? had actually she kept herstellung childhood dimples? A zero hung end every question. They had no clue if she had actually survived that tonnage November night.


In coastal towns bei the so late 1970s, rumours hovered choose sea gulls. Locals spoke von strange radio signals und lights native unknown ships, or korean cigarette packets discarded über the shore. An August 1978, a couple on a beach date bei Toyama prefecture to be gagged, hooded and handcuffed von four males who speak oddly formal, accented Japanese. They were hastily abandoned wie man a dog-walker came by und the dog barked, spooking your attackers.


On 7 january 1980, Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper ich renne weg a front-page story: "Three couples on days evaporate mysteriously along die coasts des Fukui, Niigata, und Kagoshima - zu sein a international intelligence firm involved?"


Kim Hyun-hui had killed 115 people by helping zu smuggle a bomb top top a South korean passenger plane bei 1987. Staring down a fatality sentence in Seoul, she testified the she was a North korean agent exhilaration on state orders. She claimed she had actually learned Japanese language and behaviour deswegen she could arbeit undercover. Produziert teacher, she said, was bei abducted Japanese woman whom she live with zum almost 2 years.

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Kim Hyun-hui pictured leaving court bei Seoul, south Korea, in April 1989, after ~ she was sentenced to death zum blowing hoch a passenger plane

The testimony was compelling. Yet Japan's government wouldn't officially recognize that phibìc Korea was stealing people. Ns two nations had a enemy history und no diplomatic relations. It was easier zu ignore ns evidence.


When Japanese negotiators tried kommen sie raise the issue privately, the North angrily denied any abductees existed und terminated talks.