13 May 2011

180,000 people abducted by North Korea - report

8:38 pm on 13 May 2011

North Korea may have abducted as many as 180,000 people over the past six decades, according to a report by a United States-based human rights group.

The Committee for Human Rights says people have been lured or snatched from 14 countries, the BBC reports.

Abduction by the North Korean government can come in many ways and in many different places, the committee's report says.

They include a Japanese college student and his girlfriend snatched from a beach in Japan by North Korean agents, more than 3000 South Korean fishermen forcibly towed into North Korean waters, and students in European cities lured to the secretive state with the promise of jobs and then denied permission to leave.

The report says once inside North Korea, many abuctees are tortoured, forced to marry and to work for the regime against their will.

The allegations are almost impossible to verify with free access to North Korea.

In 2002, Pyongyang released a handful of Japanese nationals in response to Japan's questions about its missing people. However since then, it has not confirmed the presence of any more abductees inside the country.