Former PETER, Paul And Mary folk legend NOEL PAUL STOOKEY is launching a campaign to free a Japanese schoolgirl kidnapped in North Korea 30 years ago, and has written a song he hopes will help return her to her family.
MEGUMI YOKOTA was reportedly snatched by secret agents in the North Korean capital Pyongyang in 1977 when she was just 13. It is thought she was taken, along with many other Japanese, as part of a campaign in the 1970s and 1980s to train spies.
Authorities in North Korea say she hanged herself in 1994, but her parents are convinced she is alive and the Japanese government are pushing for the truth about her. Japan has vowed not to provide aid to the country until progress is made over the issue of the abductees - and now Stookey has become an unlikely participant in the debate.
The 69-year-old says of SONG FOR MEGUMI, which is released on Wednesday (21FEB07), "When I read what had been done to this young girl and the emotional result to her family, I decided to do what folk music has always done - put a face on the pain.
"I am also holding out hope that somewhere in an automobile in North Korea, (its leader) KIM JONG-IL is listening to the radio and thinks of his own family.
"It is very difficult to imagine such a horrible thing happening to someone so close to you.
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