Japan’s Forgotten Self-Abductees

The Marmot’s Hole cites a new study by ANU professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki on North Korea’s forgotten victims, the Koreans who “returned” to North Korea from Japan between 1959 and 1984, with much encouragement from the Japanese government. Read the whole thing.

Between 1959 and 1984, these few were among the 93,340 people who migrated from Japan to North Korea in search of the new and better life. There were several particularly ironic features of this migration. First, it took place precisely at the time of Japan’s “economic miracle”. Secondly, although it was described as a “repatriation”, almost all those who “returned” to North Korea originally came from the south of the Korean peninsula, and many had been born and lived all their lives in Japan. Third, the glowing images of life which tempted them to Kim Il-Sung’s “worker’s paradise” came, not just from the North Korean propaganda machine but from the Japanese mainstream media, supported and encouraged by politicians including key members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The Marmot adds:

PS: Obviously, this whole affair, if true, is not exactly analogous to Operation Keelhaul [Wikipedia], when thousands of anti-communist Eastern Europeans (many of whom were Nazi collaborators) in Allied-occupied Europe were handed over to the Soviets and Yugoslavs after the war. But it’s a tragedy nevertheless. One famous survivor of the repatriation, of course, is defector Kang Chol-hwan [Wikipedia], the author of The Aquariums of Pyongyang who spent his first years in Japan before his parents returned to North Korea. He spent much of the rest of his childhood in Yodok Prison Camp [Wikipedia], thanks to North Korea’s humane practice of incarcerating entire families [New York Times].

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