Saturday, May 14, 2011

Report highlights North Korean abductions

A new report detailing North Korea's decades-long policy of abducting foreign nationals has been published by a US-based human rights group. The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea says more than 180,000 people from 14 countries have been taken.

The vast majority of these cases are not typical abductions. They involve prisoners not returned after the 1950-53 Korean War and Japanese who settled in North Korea but were never allowed home. Other reports highlight North Korea's foreign operations - including a Japanese college student and his girlfriend snatched from a beach in Japan by North Korean agents.

The figure includes more than 3,000 South Korean fishermen forcibly towed into North Korean waters and students in European cities - including London, it says - lured to the secretive state with the promise of jobs and then denied permission to leave.

The figure of 180,000 is much larger than usually quoted because researchers have added together all the groups that may have been affected by North Korea's alleged practices.

Some abductions, they say, are apparently a bid to train its intelligence agents, but the report also cites more recent claims that North Korean agents are targeting those in China's border areas who are suspected of helping their people escape the closed state.

The allegations are almost impossible to verify.


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