The Invitation — Only Zone by Robert S. Boynton
Tuesday, June 7
Reports about North Korea’s behavior have become routine. News of its international kidnapping project shocked the world in 2002. In the 1970s, dozens--perhaps hundreds--of Japanese citizens were abducted from beaches and cities and held secretly in Pyongyang for the next quarter century.
Robert S. Boynton, journalist and Director of Literary Reportage Concentration at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, describes how North Korea commandos abducted people from Japan, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The regime had attempted to reeducate these abductees and make them spy on its behalf. Captives were forced to train North Korean spies and make lives for themselves, marrying, having children, and posing as North Korean civilians in guarded communities known as “Invitation-Only Zones” — the fiction being that they were exclusive enclaves. Kim Jong-Il finally admitted to kidnappings. Five returned to Japan, but dozens are still languishing in North Korea.
Boynton spent seven years reporting The Invitation - Only Zone: The True Story of North Korea’s Abduction Project. He sets these stories against the vexed historical relationship between Japan and the Koreas, in a book praised as reading “like an episode of The Twilight Zone,” with the difference being that “it is completely true.”