North Korea holding Japanese kidnapping victim's husband

North Korean authorities are holding a man believed to be the South Korean husband of Japanese kidnapping victim Megumi Yokota and their daughter under house arrest, a South Korean activist claimed Friday.

The communist state has taken the measure after a stepped-up investigation into whether Yokota's husband is a South Korean man also abducted by the North, said Do Hee-yoon, leader of the Citizen's Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees.

Choi Sung-yong, another activist working closely with Do, got the information from "North Korean sources," Do said. Repeated calls to Choi's mobile phone went unanswered.

"We presume that (North Korea) has been barring (the husband and the daughter) from outside contacts for at least two months," Do said. He didn't gave further details.

On Tuesday, Japan's government announced that Yokota's husband is "highly likely" Kim Young-nam, a South Korean national taken to the North in 1978, after conducting DNA tests on samples taken from Yokota's daughter, Hae Kyong, and Kim Young-nam's family members in South Korea.

The finding contrasted with North Korea's claim that Yokota's husband is a North Korean man named Kim Chol Jun.

In 2002, North Korea acknowledged abducting 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to help train spies, and allowed five to return home.

Pyongyang said the other eight, including Yokota, were dead. But many in Japan believe she is still alive and living in North Korea.

Kim Young-nam disappeared from a beach on South Korea's southwest coast in 1978 when he was 16. His family had thought Kim drowned or died somehow, but learned later from Seoul that he was kidnapped by North Korea and alive across the border, reports the AP.

I.L.