Tag Archives: North Korea

Top news stories of 2010

11 Dec

It’s almost 2011. It seems that 2010 just flew by! But maybe it only feels that way because I’m getting older. 😉
What would you say were the biggest news stories of 2010?
Which stories were covered by the news media extensively where you live? Which stories affected you the most?

As for me, I think I’d say that 2010’s biggest headlines were:

  • North Korea attacked South Korea in November 2010.
    I live in Japan and Korea is the nearest country to us. So if the Korean War were to restart, it could affect Japan.

    Norea Korea bombed South Korea, Nov. 2010
  • Haiti Earthquake
    On 2010 January 12, a major earthquake struck the country of Haiti. Over 90,000 people died.
    Japan is an earthquake-prone country. I think they are the worst of the natural disasters since they can strike anytime without warning.

  • Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico
    In April 2010, a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused over 4 million barrels of oil to pollute the water and cause immense damage to the eco-system.
    I grew up on the Gulf coast of Florida.

Which news stories do you think were 2010’s biggest?

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Songs for Megumi

19 Aug

Do you know the story of 横田めぐみ (Megumi Yokota)?

She has become a symbol of un-returned Japanese abductees in North Korea.

North Korea has abducted a number of people in other countries, mostly Japan, to train their spies in the language and customs of their countries so that the North Korean spies can assimilate into other countries more easily.

I wrote a post about the Japanese abductees. (Click here to read it. I wrote about the few abductees that were returned to Japan decades after the were kidnapped, and I also wrote about Megumi Yokota and her parents’ struggle to be reunited with their daughter before they die).

横田めぐみ (Megumi Yokota) was taken by North Korean agents in Japan when she was only thirteen years old. She was walking home from school when she was kidnapped and taken to North Korea thirty-three years ago.

At first the North Korean government denied kidnapping any Japanese people. Then, when presented with evidence, claimed that Megumi Yokota had committed suicide years ago…a claim which many in Japan don’t believe.

Anyways, there is a documentary about the 横田めぐみ (Megumi Yokota) story. And it turns out that Noel Paul Stookey of the folk music band “Peter, Paul and Mary” had watched the documentary, and so did the English pop star Peter Frampton.

And both Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Frampton were so moved by Megumi Yokota’s story that they both recorded songs about her.

Noel Paul Stookey‘s song is titled “Song For Megumi” and it’s in English but has a few lines in Japanese:

あなたはどこに?…風の中にあなたの声が聞こえます。

(excerpt of lyrics from the “Song For Megumi”)

Those lyrics mean “Where are you? I can hear your voice in the wind.”

Here is Noel Paul Stookey performing his song “Song For Megumi:

And Peter Frampton has just released a new album titled “Thank You Mr. Churchill”. One song on that album is titled “Asleep At The Wheel” and is about Megumi Yokota‘s story.
And another song is an instrumental titled “Suite Liberte A) Megumi B) Huria Watu“…the first half of the song is dedicated to Megumi Yokota.

Here is “Suite Liberte A) Megumi B) Huria Watu“:

The parents of 横田めぐみ (Megumi Yokota), who have to this day never given up their fight to have their daughter returned, said after learning about these songs that they hope the songs are popular and draw a lot of attention to the abductions in North Korea.

News summary

28 May

A few items that were in the news recently:

  • Takamiyama, the first foreign sumo wrestler in Japan (he was Hawaiian (he’s become a naturalized Japanese years ago, though)), will retire this June.He’s already retired from wrestling about 25 years ago, but he has his own sumo stable (a training ring and dormitory for a group of wrestlers) and he will turn 65 years old this June, so he’s planning to completely retire from sumo next month.
  • 自由の女神像 (The Statue Of Liberty) in New York City had been off-limits to tourists since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks…but it has recently been reopened and now tourists can go all the way to the top again for the first time in nearly eight years.
  • North Korea tested nuclear weapons on last Monday and Tuesday. As a result, the Peace Clock in 広島 (Hiroshima, Japan) that counts the number of days that there has been no nuclear testing in the world had to be reset back to “00001”.

peace-clock

  • A police officer in France was arrested after he cut of the genitals of his cheating wife’s boyfriend with a box-cutter knife.
  • A woman was caught shoplifting from a Wal-Mart store in America and in an attempt to escape, she threw her infant child at the store’s security guards. Almost killing the baby.

This week’s tragic news…

5 Apr

Some terrible news from around the world this week…

    A rash of shootings in America:

  • On Friday, April 3, a man barricaded the back door of an immigrant center in Binghamton, NY, USA with his car, then went in through the front door and began shooting people.
    He killed thirteen people before killing himself.

  • On Saturday, April 4, a father in Graham, Washington, USA shot his five children (ages 7 – 16) to death and then killed himself.
  • Also on Saturday, April 4, police in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA responded to a call about domestic violence. When they arrived at the house, a 23-year-old man wearing a bullet-proof vest shot the three responding officers.
    SWAT officers arrived soon after but were unable to help the shot officers for hours because the man in the house held them at bay with gunfire.
    By the time the three officers who were shot were retrieved by the SWAT team, they had bled to death.
    And possibly due to global warming:

  • A large ice bridge in the Antarctic Ocean has collapsed.
    Scientists say it was holding a huge ice shelf in place and now that it’s fallen, the ice shelf (which is the size of Jamaica) will begin to float away which may cause it to melt and raise the sea level.
  • Not totally unexpected, but North Korea launched the missile* that it had been getting ready.
    (*North Korea claims that it isn’t a missile…but a satellite.)
    It flew over Japan. Part of it landed in 日本海 (the Sea Of Japan) and the main part of the missile flew over Japan and landed in 太平洋 (the Pacific Ocean).
    If any part of the missile entered Japan’s land, air, or sea borders, Japan was prepared to shoot it down.
    Here is a YouTube video of CNN‘s coverage of the launch and Japan’s reaction:

Abduction

22 Jan

Have you ever heard about North Korea’s abductions of other countries’ citizens?

They have abducted many people, mostly South Koreans, to help teach their spies English, Japanese and South Korean language and customs.

After years of denying that abductions have occurred, North Korea’s leader, Kimg Jong-Il admitted to then-Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi in 2002 that they abducted 13 Japanese (Japan claims the total is actually much higher), but all but five have died…although they failed to produce the remains or any other proof of the eight Japanese deaths—not even a death certificate.

In October 2002, the five Japanese abductees that North Korea admitted were alive were permitted to return to Japan for a temporary visit. But once they were back on Japan’s soil, the Japanese government informed North Korea that they won’t be returning them to North Korea.
That seems common sense to most people…but North Korea was angered.

When the five abductees returned to Japan, it was huge news in Japan!
When they first stepped off of the plane, they looked and acted like North Koreans. They had label pins of Kim Jong-Il’s image and they were quiet and hesitant to answer questions. They had been living in North Korea for about twenty-five years! But they soon began to relax and feel comfortable in Japan again…and their appearances physically changed…they began to look Japanese again.

One of the five returnees was Hitomi Soga. She returned alone…but her husband and two daughters were still in North Korea.
Her husband is Charles Robert Jenkins. He’s an American Army deserter. During the Vietnam War, he was stationed in South Korea…but when he learned that he would be sent to the battle zone in Vietnam, he defected to North Korea—and immediately regretted his decision!
He didn’t want to visit Japan with his wife because he feared Japan would turn him over to the American authorities to face desertion charges.
Since his wife would be staying in Japan and not return to North Korea, Japan negotiated with North Korea to allow Jenkins and his daughters to come to Japan.
Jenkins came to Japan and surrendered to American authorities at a U.S. Army base in Japan. He was found guilty of desertion and sentenced to thirty-days confinement and a Dishonorable Discharge.

He currently lives in Western Japan with his wife Hitomi Soga and their two daughters. He is in the process of becoming a naturalized Japanese citizen.

The most famous of the Japanese abductees in Megumi Yokota. She was just thirteen-years old when she was kidnapped by North Korean agents as she was walking home from school in November 1977.

yokota

Megumi Yokota would be 44 years old now. And North Korea said that she has a Korean husband and a daughter. But she wasn’t one of the five returnees in 2002…North Korea told Japan that she committed suicide in 1994.
When asked, North Korea couldn’t produce a death certificate or remains of Megumi, at first…they suddenly they offered Japan her cremated remains, but Japan conducted a DNA test on the ashes and discovered that they were the ashes of numerous people—none of which was Megumi Yokota!

Most Japanese (including the Yokota family) feel that Megumi Yokota is still alive in North Korea.

Megumi Yokota’s parents and the relatives of the other remaining abductees continue to petition the Japanese government (and the U.S. government) to pressure North Korea to return all abductees to their home countries.

There is a movie about Megumi Yokota‘s story…and her mother wrote a book (which has recently been translated into English).

I have been following the story of Megumi Yokota since I first heard about it around ten years ago. I can’t imagine her parents’ pain.