søndag 7. februar 2021

Snatched from a beach to train North Korea's spies

15 November 1977, Niigata, Japan: It was after sunset on a crisp November evening when Megumi Yokota left her last badminton practice. Sharp winds chilled the fishing port of Niigata, and the grey sea rumbled at its brink. The lights of home were seven minutes' walk away.

Megumi, 13, with her book-bag and badminton racquet, said goodbye to two friends 800ft from her parents' front door. But she never reached it. As six o'clock became seven and the quiet street failed to produce her daughter, Sakie Yokota began to panic. She ran to the gym at Yorii Middle School, expecting to meet her en route. "They left a long time ago," the school's night watchman said.

Police, tracker dogs, torches splitting the darkness. They scoured a nearby pine forest calling Megumi's name. Sakie sped down the road to the beach, frantically scanning every car parked nearby. It made sense to search the shoreline. But perhaps something stronger and more ineffable drove the mother to the water's edge that night. Out on the Sea of Japan, out of Sakie's sight, a boat manned by North Korean agents was speeding towards the Korean Peninsula with a terrified schoolgirl locked in the hold. They left no evidence, and not a single witness.