North Korean agents 'kidnapped Thai woman'

Thailand's government is investigating claims that a Thai woman missing since 1978 was kidnapped by North Korean agents and is now living there. Relatives of the woman, Anocha Panjoy, were alerted to her possible fate by an article written by a US man who recently left North Korea.

Pyongyang has already "informally denied" abducting the woman, said Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkon. North Korea has previously admitted kidnapping Japanese and South Koreans.

The missing Thai woman, Anocha Panjoy, 51, lived in Sankampaeng district in northern Chiang Mai province. She has not been home since she travelled to Macao for work in 1978, according to Thailand's TNA news agency.

Her relatives contacted the authorities after seeing a picture accompanying an article in a Japanese newspaper which they said resembled Ms Anocha.

The article was written by Charles Jenkins, an American who moved to Japan last year after being allowed to leave North Korea - his home since 1965, when he deserted from the US military.

Mr Jenkins will be asked to meet Thai officials at the Thai embassy in Tokyo to give them further information, Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkon said.

The North Korean charge d'affaires to Thailand, Kim Chol-nam will discuss the case with Nopadol Gunavibool, director general of the East Asia Department at the Foreign Ministry, later this week, according to the Bangkok Post.

Pyongyang admitted in 2002 that it had kidnapped 13 Japanese to help train its spies. Five have since returned home, and the North says the rest have died. But Japan believes they and others could still be alive in the North. And two weeks ago, Pyongyang also admitted for the first time that is holding 21 South Koreans, reports BBC news.

Photo: AFP I.L.

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