Skip to main content

Abductee's parents finally meet North Korean granddaughter

By Euan McKirdy, CNN
March 17, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
Sakie (l) and Shigeru Yokota, seen in this 2007 photograph, traveled to Mongolia to meet their granddaughter and her family
Sakie (l) and Shigeru Yokota, seen in this 2007 photograph, traveled to Mongolia to meet their granddaughter and her family
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Parents of abducted schoolgirl meet their granddaughter and great-granddaughter
  • Megumi Yokota was kidnapped by a North Korean agent in 1977
  • Abductee issue remains a point of contention for Japanese authorities

(CNN) -- Megumi Yokota was only 13 when she was abducted by a North Korean agent in the 1970s. Now, almost 40 years after her disappearance, her aging parents, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, have traveled to Mongolia to meet her daughter -- their granddaughter.

In a series of meetings in Ulan Bator arranged by Japanese and North Korean foreign ministry officials, the Japanese couple met 26-year-old Kim Eun-gyong, her husband and 10-month-old daughter.

"Our long-cherished dream had come true," Shigeru Yokota said at a press conference. "It was actually first time to meet her although I've been seeing her on TV (since she was) 14 or 15."

Few answers decades after kidnapping
Does China coddle North Korea?
1950: The Korean War begins

Yokota, who was kidnapped from the port city of Niigata in 1977, was not present at the meeting. North Korean authorities insist that she committed suicide, although this is disputed in Japan and repatriated ashes proved not to be a DNA match.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Monday morning that he was "glad" to hear that the meeting was conducted safely.

"We are determined to resolve the abduction issue at any cost," he said.

The abductee issue is a considerable sticking point in Japan-North Korea relations. The reclusive state has admitted to kidnapping a number of Japanese nationals, mostly to help train spies in Japanese language and culture.

The Yokotas said that they were unable to confirm their daughter's safety with Kim, as political matters were off the table. However, her mother said, "I spent time with them believing Megumi is still safe somewhere."

The meeting took place as North Korea's bellicosity is once again on the rise, with reports that the Stalinist state has fired a number of short-range missiles into the sea off its east coast.

After 40 years in North Korea, escapee returns to Seoul

'Unspeakable atrocities' in North Korea

North and South Korea hold first family reunion in three years

CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 0851 GMT (1651 HKT)
North Korea has "the world's most advantageous human rights system," the country declares.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 0135 GMT (0935 HKT)
Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions Monday in an exclusive interview with CNN.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0852 GMT (1652 HKT)
The crowd cheers as the stars make their way to the ring for first pro-wrestling bout North Korea has seen in almost 20 years.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0137 GMT (0937 HKT)
CNN's Will Ripley makes a rare live report from reclusive North Korea.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1445 GMT (2245 HKT)
CNN's Will Ripley is given a rare look inside North Korea and tours Kim Jong Un's pet project, a waterpark.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
North Korea rejected an invitation to the Pope's Mass in Seoul. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.
July 2, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
As diplomats discuss a string of unsolved kidnappings of Japanese citizens by North Korea, the families of those abducted anxiously wait.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
North Korea says it plans to prosecute two American tourists that it detained earlier this year, accusing them of "perpetrating hostile acts."
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 2338 GMT (0738 HKT)
North Korea proposed that "all hostile military activities" with South Korea be halted, but it attached conditions that Seoul is likely to reject.
June 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
North Korean state news is reporting the country test-launched "cutting-edge ultra precision tactical guided missiles."
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
James Franco won't be following Dennis Rodman into North Korea anytime soon.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1104 GMT (1904 HKT)
Don't you hate it when the weatherman gets it wrong? Apparently, so does Kim Jong Un.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 2344 GMT (0744 HKT)
New signs show Russia and North Korea are developing a closer relationship.
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
Photographer Eric Lafforgue visited North Korea and shares his inside look at the most isolated country in the world.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 0125 GMT (0925 HKT)
Many North Koreans listen to illegal broadcasts on homemade radios, some are convinced to defect.
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 1926 GMT (0326 HKT)
Jang Jin-Sung, a North Korean defector and former regime insider, speaks with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
ADVERTISEMENT