For decades, spies from North Korea would secretly travel by boat to Japan. Once there they would roam the beaches, looking for isolated couples or individuals they could grab and take back to N. Korea.
After they arrived the kidnap victims would be forced to work in spy training camps, teaching Communist commandos and spies how best to pass unnoticed in Japanese society. Every so often they’d be joined by the odd duck who had actually defected to N. Korea.
Sounds like something out of a bad spy novel, doesn’t it? But it really happened. N. Korea’s been doing it for decades. Rumors and defectors have confirmed the practice, and N. Korea finally admitted to the practice a few years ago. They would even allow a few select victims, people who had children and loved ones that could be held hostage back in N. Korea, visit Japan for a short period of time.
Now it would appear that they’re going to allow the kidnap victims to finally come home. Japan brokered a deal where they’d pass on food and oil to Korea in exchange.
This is probably a mistake even though I don’t blame Japan for making the deal.
North Korea is in dire straights, with a famine that’s reached catastrophic proportions by most accounts, and the only way they’ve been able to keep going as long as they have is by threatening the free world with nuclear bombs unless they received the food and energy needed to keep the Communists in power.
The problem is that the Communists are an enormous threat. They’ve been threatening the countries around them, particularly South Korea, for over 50 years. Any direct confrontation would result in inevitable defeat for the North but would also mean huge civilian and military casualties in S. Korea.
So the hope has been that there would be some sort of collapse in North Korea. Too many starving people, too little oil and energy, and the entire house of cards should come crashing down sooner or later.
This deal the Japanese made might just prolong that, or even mean that the Communists will be able to keep going long enough for the famine to end. But, on the other hand, it will also mean that the Japanese will be able to get their people out of harm’s way before the collapse.
4 thoughts on “About Time”
NHK (Radio Japan) emphasized the negative of this story this morning. In the Yahoo text, about 3/4 of the way down you get a paragraph on the ten (minimum) Japanese who are still unaccounted for. Before the trip, clearing up their status was claimed to be the main purpose. A bit further on you get a quote from the relatives of the abductees, that this was the worst possible outcome. The Hermit Kingdon got it’s money and got to minimize its own past responsibility and limit promises of its own future good behavior.
You can get a bit more of this perspective here:
Matya no baka
I keep wondering if North Korea is so brittle that if you could just assasinate Kim Jong Il, the whole thing would crumble.
A quibble – that should be ‘dire straits,’ not ‘dire straights.’
On NHK this morning, it seems the level of disappoinment disappeared. According to their survey, 70% think PM Koizumi’s trip was successful and 88% think there is still more work to do.
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