Counterfeiting, nuclear component sales, inhuman treatment of its own people — the list of North Korea’s wrongdoing goes on. Lying is a favorite tool of North Korean diplomacy. During the Clinton Administration the North Koreans promised to dismantle their nuclear program, but continued it. In 2002, when then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited from Japan, Kim Jong-il admitted that North Korea had abducted 13 people from Japan and he was, oh, so sorry.
Case closed, so far as Kim was concerned.
Not quite. He was off only by a figure of 180,295. The Washington, D.C.-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea has released a detailed study on the deliberate and systematic program of North Korea to abduct citizens of other countries for various purposes. The study’s title is “TAKEN! North Korea’s Criminal Abductions of Citizens of Other Countries.”
Not long after the end of World War II, North Korea’s founder Kim Il-Sung said, “In order to solve the shortage of intellectuals, we have to bring intellectuals from South Korea.” He meant it literally. The systematic kidnapping program began during the Korean War and immediately after the truce, when the country was short of farmers, factory workers and miners. So, during the war, according to the Committee’s report, North Korea snatched 82,000 skilled South Koreans and shipped them north. This continued well into the 1980s.
“In the 1960s,” according to the report, “93,000 Koreans were lured from Japan and held against their will. A decade later, children of North Korean agents were kidnapped, apparently to blackmail their parents.” Also in the 1970s, foreigners in a position to teach North Korean operatives how to infiltrate targets countries were adducted to teach its spy cadres.
The report by the Washington-based committee is the result of three years of research, according to Chuck Downs, its executive director. Yoshi Yamamoto was the principal researcher on the project.
Among the cases that have come to light is one involving a couple who produced films in South Korea. They were kidnapped in Hong Kong in 1978 and forced to produce films in the North. (They escaped in 1986.)
In London in 1983, a North Korean undercover agent enrolled in a language school. promised a Japanese student there a good job for her in North Korea. She took a flight to Pyongyang and disappeared. More than 3,721 South Korean fishermen were apprehended and forcibly towed into North Korean waters. Altogether, abductees were brought to North Korea for 14 countries, among them France, Italy, the Netherlands, the U.S., Lebanon, Malaysia and Thailand.
Although China is an economic benefactor of North Korean, an estimated 200 Chinese on the border have been abducted to North Korea because they were suspected of helping North Korean escapees.
The Committee report also shows an aerial photo pinpointing what is believed to be the compound where today’s living abductees are domiciled. According to Downs, “If you lived there you would have no idea where you were on the face of the earth. You would just think that you are in a valley surrounded by mountains.”
Richard Allen, co-chairman of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, says, “This is an ongoing criminal enterprise.” It certainly is. With its abduction program, North Korea is violating at least eight international laws.
The United States and the rest of its Group of Five — South Korea, Japan, China, Russia — have been lied to by Kim Jong-il time and again. Indeed, the Bush Administration, after the last set of promises-to-be-broken by Kim & Co., took North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Mr. Obama, having (to hear him tell it) dispatched Osama bin Laden, should now put North Korea back on the list.
Mr. Hannaford is a board member of the Committee for the Present Danger.