Dead Wrong?

2 minute read
Bryan Walsh

North Korea’s decision to allow Japanese citizens abducted by its spies some 20 years ago to return to their homeland was supposed to be a goodwill gesture that would open the way to friendlier North Korea-Japan relations. But as a trust-building exercise, the gambit is backfiring. Bad enough that Pyongyang recently admitted it was trying to build nuclear bombs in violation of international agreements. Now, it seems, North Korea has been less than honest about the fate of the Japanese who died while held by the Northand may be playing a shell game with dead bodies. Last week, a Japanese fact-finding team discovered that the ostensible remains of abductee Kaoru Matsuki, who supposedly died in North Korea at age 42, appear to actually be those of a 60-year-old woman, according to a dental expert who examined a jaw fragment. Meanwhile, a group of abductees’ families is raising questions about the authenticity of the documentation that is supposed to back North Korea’s accounts of what happened to victims. For example, most death certificates presented by Pyongyang were printed on identical forms issued by a mysterious ‘695th hospital’ while a marriage certificate for two abductees had the wrong dates of birth. By coming clean on its institutionalized kidnapping, North Korea should have eased the minds of grieving family members. Instead, the flap has provoked further rage and cruel hope that loved ones said to be dead are somehow still alive. And it’s shown once again that, even when the truth is in its best interests, Pyongyang can’t help being compulsively deceitful.

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