Disappearance of Yaeko Taguchi

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Yaeko Taguchi
Born(1955-08-10)August 10, 1955
DisappearedJune 1978 (age 22)
Tokyo, Japan
StatusMissing for 40 years, 9 months and 24 days
Other namesLee Un-hae
Known forKidnapping victim
ChildrenKoichiro Izuka (son)
FamilyShigeo Izuka (brother)

Yaeko Taguchi (Japanese: 田口 八重子; Taguchi Yaeko; born August 10, 1955) is a Japanese citizen, one of several kidnapped by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[1][2]


Taguchi worked as a bar hostess in Tokyo, Japan to raise her two children, a one-year-old son and three-year-old daughter, after divorcing her husband.[3][4] She disappeared in June 1978, at the age of 22, after dropping her children off at a day care centre.[5]

She was forced to help train North Korean spy Kim Hyon Hui, the surviving bomber of Korean Air Flight 858.[6][7] In 2002, North Korea admitted that she and others had been abducted, but claimed that she had died on July 30, 1986, more than a year before the KAL 858 incident. Kim Hyon Hui testified Taguchi was given the Korean name Lee Un Hae (李恩恵, 리은혜) in North Korea.[6][7] Kim said Taguchi often wept when telling her how much she missed her children.[2][8][9]

Her fate in North Korea is unknown, but the Japanese government believed that Taguchi may still have been alive in 2000.[10][11]

Children's life in Japan[edit]

Her children were raised by her siblings in Japan. Her son Koichiro was raised by her brother Shigeo Izuka and his wife, while her daughter was adopted by her older sister after her ex-husband was banned from visiting.[12] When they were adults, Shigeo told them that they were Taguchi's children.[13] Her son, an engineer at an information technology company in Tokyo, went public in 2004 claiming that claims of her death were "nonsense", and he wanted her returned.[13] Shigeo became Chair of the Association of NARKN along with the Yokota family.

In 2008, Taguchi's son Koichiro Izuka said:

I was separated from my mother just 30 years ago when I was 1 year and four months old. Therefore I don't remember my mother's warmth, voice, or smell. We want to return to being an ordinary family, and regain a part of the time lost over the last 30 years.[14]

In March 2009, Kim Hyon Hui met Yaeko Taguchi's son Koichiro Izuka in Busan, South Korea. Kim told Izuka she believes Taguchi is still alive. Izuka said, "I received evidence that my mother is certainly alive. I have new hope for our rescue efforts.".[15] In October 2011, South Korean intelligence agencies reported they believed dozens of South Korean and Japanese abduction victims were moved to Wonhwa-ri in South Pyongan Province; this group may have included Taguchi and her second husband Tadaaki Hara.[16]

In 2014 Taguchi's brother, too, testified about her kidnapping.[17][18] [19][20]

In media and culture[edit]

Taguchi was played by Mayumi Sada in the 2006 NTV television film Saikai ~Yokota Megumi-san no Negai~. A Japanese documentary about Kim Hyun-hui's life featured her meeting Yaeko and how she sings lullabies to her children.[21] Her son Koichiro Izuka wrote his book When My Mother was Kidnapped I was One about how he was adopted by his uncle as a baby and struggled for 20 years to see his mother again. It was adapted as a manga authored by Souichi Mato, who wrote about Kaoru Hasuike's and Megumi Yokota's lives in North Korea.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The North Korean spy who blew up a plane, BBC News, 22 April 2013
  2. ^ a b Kirby, Michael Donald; Biserko, Sonja; Darusman, Marzuki (7 February 2014). "Report of the detailed findings of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea - A/HRC/25/CRP.1". United Nations Human Rights Council: 288–298 (Paragraph 936). Archived from the original on Feb 27, 2014. Ms Taguchi Yaeko disappeared from Tokyo in June 1978, leaving behind two very young children. Former DPRK agent Kim Hyon-hui, convicted of bombing a Korean Air jet in November 1987, is believed to have been taught how to pass herself off as Japanese by Ms Taguchi. The DPRK alleged that Ms Taguchi died at age 30. However, the DPRK authorities have not provided any credible evidence in support of their claim.
  3. ^ "내 일어(日語)선생 이은혜가 다구치 맞다" 김현희, NHK 인터뷰… "北 사망주장은 거짓" 조선일보 2009.01.16 (in Korean)
  4. ^ 金贤姬:我日语老师是被北韩绑架的田口八重子 朝鲜日报中文网 2009.01.16 (in Chinese)
  5. ^ Unmesh Kher (3 October 2002). "Accounted for, at Last". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 18 July 2017 – via content.time.com.
  6. ^ a b Suspected Abduction Cases by North Korea "Lee Un Hae" Case National Police Agency
  7. ^ a b 北朝鮮による拉致事案について 李恩恵(リ・ウネ)拉致容疑事案 警察庁 (in Japanese)
  8. ^ Japanese Abduction Victim Still Alive, Says KAL Bomber, Chosun Ilbo January 16, 2009
  9. ^ François Bougon, A Chilling Tale Of Ordinary Japanese Abducted By North Korean Spies, Worldcrunch, December 25, 2012
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ [2][dead link]
  12. ^ Son of NK Kidnap Victim Yearns to See His Mother, Dong-a Ilbo, March 6, 2009
  13. ^ a b Taguchi's son seeks clues from ex-agent The Japan Times Feb 22, 2009
  14. ^ 「母を紡ぐ」息子の思い SANKEI SHINBUN 2008.7.4 (Japanese)
  15. ^ KAL Bomber Meets Abduction Victim's Family Chosun Ilbo Mar.12,2009
  16. ^ N.Korea Moves Abduction Victims to Remote Internment Camp Chosun Ilbo Sep. 24, 2011
  17. ^ "UN Rights Envoy Urges Action Against N.Korea". chosun.com.
  18. ^ "U.N. support sought by kin of abductees". 18 March 2014 – via Japan Times Online.
  19. ^ Ripley, Will. "Abductees family hope North Korea talks bring closure". CNN.
  20. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/world/asia/north-korea-kidnap-japanese-trump.html
  21. ^ scramble749 (15 October 2010). 大韓航空機爆破事件~金賢姫を捕らえた男たち [Korean Air bomb blast incident - men capturing Kim & Hime] (in Japanese) – via YouTube.
  22. ^ 株式会社双葉社 -コミック文庫)母が拉致された時 僕はまだ一歳だった [When my mother was kidnapped I was only one year old]. www.futabasha.co.jp (in Japanese).