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Ex-N Korean agent says she believes abductees Taguchi, Yokota still alive

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Former North Korean agent Kim Hyon Hui met with the brother and son of Japanese abductee Yaeko Taguchi on Wednesday in the South Korean city of Busan, saying she believes Taguchi is still alive.

''I have no doubt your mother is still alive. I'm sure you will be able to meet her if you continue to make the effort,'' Kim told them in Japanese. Kim is believed to have learned from Taguchi.

The meeting between the 47-year-old Kim and Shigeo Iizuka, 70, and Koichiro Iizuka, 32, was organized by the Japanese and South Korean governments as both Taguchi's kin and Kim wanted to meet the other party.

''I am happy to have been able to live to this historic day. I thank Kim for clearly stating that she thought my sister is still alive,'' Shigeo told a press conference that followed the 90-minute-long closed-door meeting.

''My five-year-long wish has come true,'' said Koichiro, who had sent a letter addressed to Kim five years ago, requesting to meet her.

While citing that she never received the letter, Kim said in the press conference that she had been ''so excited these past several days that I could not sleep. Koichiro gets his looks from his mother and is handsome. How much better it would have been if Taguchi were here.''

Kim added that she had heard that Taguchi was married to someone ''in 1986, but I never heard to whom.''

The former North Korean operative also told reporters that she does not believe that Japanese abductee Megumi Yokota is dead, as the North Korean government has said. Yokota was taken to North Korea from Niigata in 1977 when she was 13 years old.

Kim said although Yokota had been admitted to a hospital due to her mental state, ''I was told that her condition was not that severe.''

At the outset of the meeting in the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center, Kim gave Koichiro a hug and told him that he looked ''just like (his) mother'' and apologized for being unable to meet sooner.

Meanwhile, Shigeo and Koichiro gave Kim souvenirs from Japan, including a CD album by Japanese singer Kenji Sawada, also known as ''Julie.'' This is Kim's first public appearance since she got married in December 1997.

''This meeting has opened up possibilities for Japan and South Korea to work together in settling the abduction issue,'' Shigeo told reporters.

The Japanese government had been requesting its South Korean counterpart to set up the meeting between Taguchi's kin and Kim.

The administration of former President Roh Moo Hyun had been reluctant to hold the meeting due to concerns that such actions could excite North Korea. However, the administration of President Lee Myung Bak has been positive in cooperating with Japan on the abduction issue.

Shigeo and Koichiro arrived in South Korea on Tuesday. Koichiro had expressed hope that the meeting with Kim would ''offer a ray of hope'' for other parties in Japan and South Korea in settling the abduction issue.

''By establishing a relationship of trust with Kim, we may be able to get more information about the abduction issue,'' Shigeo said prior to the meeting. He also heads a group representing the families of Japanese abductees.

Taguchi, who was kidnapped in June 1978 at the age of 22, is one of at least a dozen Japanese abducted by North Korea and who remain missing, according to the Japanese government.

North Korea has admitted to abducting her, but says she married abductee Tadaaki Hara in 1984 and died in a transportation accident in July 1986. Japan disputes the claim on the grounds that there has been information that Taguchi may have married a Korean abductee after 1986.

Koichiro, an engineer at an information technology company in Tokyo, said he has no memory of his mother because he was only 1 year old when she was abducted. Koichiro was raised by Shigeo and his wife.

Kim was convicted of the 1987 fatal bombing of a South Korean airliner and sentenced to death in South Korea but was later pardoned on the grounds that she was duped by the North's communist regime trying to disrupt the 1988 Seoul Olympics and that she repented her crime.

Kim has told investigators that she and a male North Korean agent, posing as a Japanese father and daughter, boarded Korean Air Flight 858 from Baghdad to Seoul on Nov 28, 1987. They planted a time bomb on the plane after getting off in Abu Dhabi, a refueling stop.

The next day, the Boeing 707 plane exploded over the Andaman Sea near Burma, now Myanmar, according to a South Korean investigation.

Kim and her accomplice were arrested two days later in Bahrain, where they were trying to get a flight to Rome. The pair attempted to kill themselves by taking cyanide concealed in cigarette filters. The man died, but Kim recovered and was extradited to Seoul.

Kim has said she was ordered to bomb the plane by Kim Jong Il, the country's current leader but then the heir of national founder Kim Il Sung. The younger Kim took power following his father's death in 1994.

North Korea has denied involvement in the bombing but the incident prompted the United States to include the country in its list of terrorism-sponsoring countries.

The terrorism black list had been a key thorn in ties between the two countries, until the U.S. delisted the North last year to help salvage an international deal on the North's nuclear disarmament.

Kim later married a South Korean intelligence officer who investigated her and has written several best-selling books. She had lived in seclusion for many years until recent months.

© Wire reports

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


28 Comments
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So, now we take the word of a convicted (but pardoned) terrorist? Must be friends with Hatoyama! It seems to me that the Japanese have very selective hearing. If it benefits their argument, they believe it. If it goes against what they believe, it's all BS.

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ilcub76 Of course. Who would believe a terrorist when we have the word of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea?

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How can you believe a spy for the other side?

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I think I can guess what one of the mian stories will be on NHK tonight!

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I feel sorry for the Yokotas. Now they'll suffer even more over Megumi. Personally, I don't believe the abductees are still alive. Kim Hyon Hui hasn't been in North Korea for 20 years, so her information must be out of date.

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bivtzpk - Of course! In the same way it is one of the main stories here. And she's saying this about the abductees, but when was the last time she was in DPRK? And how can she say she has "no doubt"?

Sounds like she's just saying what the J-government wants her to say so they can keep bringing the subject up.

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Kim Hyon Hui used to be a puppet of North Korea, and she served her masters well. Having escaped the noose, she is now a puppet of South Korea (specifically the KCIA and its decendents). Anything she says has to be taken with a very large grain of salt.

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Don't keep hope alive unless there's actually hope. But who do you believe? Her (she's alive), North Korea (she's dead), or you guys (she's dead or don't believe her or don't believe the North Koreans).

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The sad thing about Megumi Yokota is that even if she is still alive, she might as well be dead.

Given their paranoia and manipulation, it's hard to believe anything that the North Koreans say, but you do have to wonder why they would let the other abductees go and then claim Megumi was dead if she actually isn't. I agree with the general comments about the credibility of this source. Cue another 10 years of the poor Yokota parents living in hope.

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Blv, pretty much the only story.

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course she does - keeps her in the press

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ilcub76 at 01:12 PM JST - 11th March

“If it benefits their argument, they believe it. If it goes against what they believe, it's all BS.”

Much the same as everybody else then, including you & I.

Why should any country in the world either forgive or forget that innocent civilians were kidnapped & taken by a neighbouring country? Posters here never tire of reminding us all about Japan’s past so why shouldn’t Japan constantly remind the world that NK is an out of control country? You might also try remembering that although Japan only talks about Japanese nationals NK kidnapped people from other countries too. Are there any missing Americans, British, Australians or whatever that might have disappeared into NK? I’m sorry if all this disturbs your TV news watching, but then not being Japanese it really hasn’t anything to do with you, assuming of course that you don’t have any feelings of moral outrage about what was done & may still be happening if it turns out that these people are still alive. As for Kim’s information being out of date, that may be true but her information is still infinitely more reliable than anything we might get from an official NK government spokesperson.

What I find horribly sad is that having said that these people are dead NK cannot not now “find” them alive, that would be too great a loss of face. It would now be in NKs interest for any remaining abductees to disappear.

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So grafton... that means they're dead then right?

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So grafton... that means they're dead then right?

If they are not, then they get closer and closer to it each time the Japanese government and press opens their mouths about them still being alive.

I wish both cared enough to shut up already. But what the press cares about is a story for the sake of a sale, and what the government cares about is an issue for the sake of election.

You are not going to hear from these abductees again. You certainly won't hear that they were killed because of loud mouths. So the loud mouths have absolutely nothing to lose if they somehow manage to sleep at night.

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i wouldnt take the word of a mass murderer like Kim, especially since she hasnt been in NK for 20 years. i cant believe anyone would shake hands with her. Much less the son of one of the abductees.

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now they can sell some of those best selling novels in Japan, too!!! Great publicity stunt!!

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MeanRingo at 08:30 PM JST - 11th March “So grafton... that means they're dead then right?”

Yes, or at the very least, as likeitis said “If they are not, then they get closer and closer to it each time the Japanese government and press opens their mouths about them still being alive.” I would love for that not to be the case, but how else can it be?

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Kim Hyon Hui is a master con artist. Who can help blow up a passenger plane and walk free. As I recall this cold-blooded mass murderer became something of a heartthrob at the time. Her dumbbell accomplice at least had the decency to die with the other passengers. Kim got off en route.

Now she is telling the Japanese what they want to hear. The missing abductees are still alive.

Here is an elementary question. When the North Koreans revealed that they had in fact abducted people and allowed a group of them to return to Japan, why would they hold back on the others if they were still alive?

I can think of only two reasons. They did not want to go back. They were in sensitive positions that would seriously compromise North Korean security.

But I really wonder how Kim would know a fraction of any of this. And if she knew anything why is she so late in coming forward?

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I think I've read Kim's book. It is called "The Tears of My Soul". Although the name of the author was Kim Hyun Hee. Can't be 100% it's the same person.

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Sure looks like a publicity stunt. Difficult issue just got more difficult.

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"Stranger.Than.Fiction"

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Kim: "I have no doubt your mother is still alive"

"Kim is believed to have learned ( Japanese language ) from Taguchi"

So, Kim may or may not have ever met Taguchi. And even if she did, what makes her think Taguchi is still alive after all these years?

And shouldn't she be dead or in prison for causing the deaths of all those people on that Korean Air jet?

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Posters here never tire of reminding us all about Japan’s past so why shouldn’t Japan constantly remind the world that NK is an out of control country?

You are comparing apples and staplers.

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So, Kim may or may not have ever met Taguchi. And even if she did, what makes her think Taguchi is still alive after all these years?

Exactly.

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North Korea is the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany. The idiotic posters here telling people to just move on ...

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Posters here never tire of reminding us all about Japan’s past so why >shouldn’t Japan constantly remind the world that NK is an out of control >country? You are comparing apples and staplers.

True. The Imperial Japanese Govt that was responsible for WWII hjas been utterly destroyed and what they did is 70 year old history. It's all in the past and nothing can be done about it. In contrast the North Korean Govt still exists today, and something can be done about it.

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medievaltimes at 11:42 PM JST - 11th March

I wasn’t making the comparison, I mentioned it before somebody else tried to use it against me. I’ve been there before so got it in first so as to save time having to answer it.

My own reasoning is much more in line with that of OssanAmerica at 12:43 AM. When he says “70 year old history. It's all in the past and nothing can be done about it. In contrast the North Korean Govt still exists today, and something can be done about it.”

I would like to believe that something could be done about it, but sadly cannot think what there is that can be done. Do nothing & this too becomes just history, do something & if the abductees do happen to be alive they wont be for much longer. It really is a no win situation & all the more repugnant for being so.

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establishing a relationship of trust with Kim

how is that even possible?

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