The young man at left is Kim Young-nam [kim yŏngnam, 김영남]. This is a picture of him taken when he was still a kid. I can't show you a picture of him now, as an adult, because in 1978, when he was a high school student, he was kidnapped by North Koreans and forced to live there (a Seoul newspaper alleges that his likely abductor, Kim Gwang Hyun [kim kwanghyŏn, 김광현], is now living in Seoul where he runs a business).
Kim Young-nam has been in the news lately because it was determined recently that he was the husband of Megumi Yokota, who as a thirteen-year-old girl was abducted by North Koreans and forced to live in the DPRK. North Korea denies this, saying that Megumi Yokota was married to a North Korean.
The tearful woman above is the mother of Kim Youngnam. When news came that her son was almost certainly the husband of Megumi Yokota, her son's case, long ignored by both left-leaning and right-leaning ROK administrations, suddenly was all over the press. It's sad and ironic, but were it not for this twist in the tragic tale of poor Megumi Yokota, Kim Youngnam's plight—and that of his family—would have gone unnoticed and unnoted by most in South Korea.
Below is perhaps a better picture, one of Kim Youngnam's mother, Choi Gyewol [choé kyewŏl, 최계월], and Kim Youngnam's sister, Kim Youngja [kim yŏngja, 김영자]. Without the cameras and the microphones in their faces, it is easier to see their anguish. I chose to include the picture above, however, because I thought it was also important to see that this story is big news right now. Despite having collectively ignored the story, the South Korean press, to its credit, is finally addressing the sad situation of dozens of South Koreans like Kim Youngnam, as well as their families.
Below is another family, that of Megumi Yokota. Her two brothers, twins Tetsuya and Takuya, and her mother and father, Sakie and Shigeru, do not go a day without thinking about her. When the North Korean government admitted in 2002 that it had kidnapped their daughter (and a dozen other Japanese citizens), they hoped for her release. But almost immediately afterward, they were told she had committed suicide in the DPRK. The Yokota family is holding out hope that this, too, is a lie from the North Koreans, that their daughter is alive somewhere in the North. The fact that a Japanese lab determined that the supposed remains of Megumi Yokota did not match her DNA has given them reason to believe that their dreams of meeting their daughter again might come true.
The story of these two families does not end there. Below are two photos of Kim Hae-kyong [kim hyegyŏng, 김혜경], the North Korea-born daughter of Megumi Yokota and, almost certainly, Kim Youngnam. She is still in North Korea, and reportedly is happy to stay there, an ironic thing if it is true. The second picture, it appears, was taken around the time the young Miss Kim gave a blood sample to visiting Japanese authorities.
These two families, though utter strangers until this month, are tied together. Not just by their granddaughter (who bears a striking resemblance to her mother) and the marriage between the two reluctant residents of the DPRK. Both families are reminders that North Korea's antics affect many South Koreans and Japanese even today, and these problems must be resolved as well. Perhaps the two families can meet, once in Seoul and once in Tokyo, to make a collective appeal for the ROK and Japanese authorities to get to the bottom of what happened to their daughter and son.
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