From ROBERT S. BOYNTON:
Kim Il-sung, in his 1946 decree “On Transporting Intellectuals from South Korea,” explained his desire to bring five hundred thousand people to the North to compensate for the mass exodus in the years leading up to the war. He envisioned an ambitious abduction project that would serve his regime while destabilizing other countries. It began with the South. An estimated eighty-four thousand South Koreans were kidnapped during the Korean War. For the first two decades after the 1953 armistice, the abductees were primarily South Korean fishermen whose boats had drifted too far up the coast. . . .
Kim Jong-il, who would go on to take over his father’s position, expanded the program outside the Koreas. He diversified and expanded intelligence operations, abducting native teachers to train North Korean spies to navigate the languages and cultures of Malaysia, Thailand, Romania, Lebanon, France, and Holland. Japanese nationals were especially sought after, because their identities could be used to create fake passports. . . .
People began to disappear from Japan in 1977. A security guard vacationing at a seaside resort two hundred miles northwest of Tokyo vanished in mid-September. A thirteen-year-old girl named Megumi Yokota, walking home from badminton practice in the port city of Niigata, was last seen eight hundred feet from her family’s front door. Dozens more went missing from other parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. A Thai woman living in Macau was grabbed on her way to a beauty salon. Four Lebanese women were brought from Beirut. A Romanian artist, having been promised an exhibition, was abducted. Some were lured onto airplanes by the prospect of jobs abroad; others were simply gagged, thrown into bags, and transported by boat to North Korea. Their families spent years searching for the missing, checking mortuaries, hiring private detectives and soothsayers. Only five of the Japanese abductees were ever seen again.