A Japanese newspaper claims to have uncovered a North Korean spy guidebook that teaches government officers how to abduct foreigners and extract information from them, proving that North Korea enforced a policy of systematic kidnapping under Kim Jong-Il.
The Tokyo Shimbun published a report Wednesday claiming to have acquired a more than 300-page document used to teach spies at the nation’s premier intelligence institute, according to the newspaper, allegedly published in 1997. The newspaper contends that this policy had been in effect since the 1970s, however, when a series of high-profile disappearances in Japan and South Korea led to accusations of kidnapping on the part of North Korean officials.
The manual, according to North Korea news site NK News, includes a chapter titled “Obtaining Information Through Abduction” that describes the process of stalking, attacking, and eventually retrieving information from a kidnapped target. It warns that an uncooperative captive can be “terminated” if necessary, but that “one must be mindful of not leaving any unexpected traces in the area.” It also suggests that “to abduct the target, one has to know the target’s address, where the target enters and exits, day-to-day traffic routes, means of transportation and their timeline as well.”
Some of the language in the manual, The Guardian notes, has raised questions about its authenticity. Namely, some contend that the writing style in parts of the manual appears to be South Korean, not North Korean, though Tokyo Shimbun’s journalists insist that there is “no doubt” regarding the document.
The documents have surfaced at an unusually tense time in the relationship between Japan and North Korea, countries that have traditionally had an adversarial relationship. In late October, evidence surfaced regarding the fate of at least one of those Japanese citizens believed to have been abducted by North Korea, Megumi Yokota. Yokota disappeared in 1977, when she was 13 years old. According to The Japan Times, a North Korean spy caught by South Korea detailed Yokota’s fate: she was allegedly trained in a spy facility in North Korea, indoctrinated with the nation’s communist ideology, and taught the language.
North Korean officials first claimed that Yokota committed suicide in 1993, then changed the year to 1994, though analysis of her alleged remains found that they did not share DNA with her nor her family.
Newfound interest in North Korea’s systematic kidnapping of South Korea and Japanese citizens has rekindled a push for the leaders of both nations to pressure North Korea into freeing the captives who are still alive after the most active period of this practice in the 1970s and 1980s. Japan, The Guardian notes, has accused North Korea of kidnapping at least 17 citizens during that time period, to be used to teach North Korean spies how to blend into Japanese communities. Kim Jong-Il admitted to the mass abduction of Japanese citizens in 2002, but claims to have repatriated all those abducted who are not currently dead. Like Yokota, the Japanese government continues to allege North Korea is lying about whether these citizens are dead.
In addition to the abduction issue, a number of states are potentially organizing a proposal to bring up the topic of human rights abuses in North Korea at the next meeting of the United Nations Security Council. China, North Korea’s most influential ally and a permanent member of the Security Council, has called such a proposal a “bad idea.”