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Abductee reunited with family

Abductee reunited with family

The mother of a South Korean at the center of a high-profile kidnapping case met her son for the first time in 28 years in North Korea yesterday for a reunion steeped in tears and political tension.The South Korean abductee, Kim Young-nam, 44, is believed to have been kidnapped by North Korean agents decades ago when he was a teenager.
He is thought to have later married Megumi Yokota, a Japanese abducted by North Korea whose case has become a focus for Japan's anger at Pyongyang for snatching its citizens.
Kim's mother, Choi Kye-wol, broke down in tears at the Mount Kumgang Resort as she wrapped her arms around her son and said, "My Young-nam, my Young-nam."
As a wheelchair-bound Choi pulled back to look him in the face, saying "Let me see," Kim, beaming and looking strong and healthy, his voice booming, said: "Mother, it's me. It's good to see you're well."
Kim prostrated himself on the floor and offered a deep bow to his mother as symbolic act to seek her forgiveness for not having seen her for so long. It was only earlier this month that Pyongyang said it had located Kim.
Initial South Korean pool video reports showed Kim with a teenage girl, who the reports said was Hye-gyong, the daughter Kim is supposed to have had with Yokota. Kim also came with his new wife and a son by her, reports said.
Kim did not speak about Yokota, or the circumstances of his 1978 kidnapping at an island beach off South Korea's west coast, before reporters were asked to leave the room. Kim is scheduled to hold a news conference today, the reports said.
In Japan, Yokota's mother Sakie, has told Reuters she thought it was dangerous to go to North Korea, which might use the visit for propaganda, but she sympathized with Kim's mother.
Yesterday, after viewing footage in Japan of the reunion, she told reporters, "I don't know what happened. I don't know the truth. But I'm just glad the mother and son were able to meet."
North Korea experts have said the North would not have agreed to the reunion unless its officials were sure of what Kim would say to South Korean reporters and his family about the circumstances of his abduction and life in the communist state.
Yokota was 13 when North Korean agents kidnapped her in 1977. Kim went missing in 1978 when he was 16.
Pyongyang has said Yokota married a North Korean man in 1986 and gave birth to a daughter, who is now 18 and lives in the North. It also said Yokota committed suicide in 1994 while being treated for depression.


Updated : 2021-10-19 01:27 GMT+08:00