The Invitation-Only Zone: The True Story of North Korea's Abduction Project

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9780374175849: The Invitation-Only Zone: The True Story of North Korea's Abduction Project

A bizarre, little-known tale about the most secretive culture on earth

For decades, North Korea denied any part in the disappearance of dozens of Japanese citizens from Japan’s coastal towns and cities in the late 1970s. But in 2002, with his country on the brink of collapse, Kim Jong-il admitted to the kidnapping of thirteen people and returned five of them in hopes of receiving Japanese aid. As part of a global espionage project, the regime had attempted to reeducate these abductees and make them spy on its behalf. When the scheme faltered, the captives were forced to teach Japanese to North Korean spies and make lives for themselves, marrying, having children, and posing as North Korean civilians in guarded communities known as “Invitation-Only Zones”―the fiction being that they were exclusive enclaves, not prisons.

From the moment Robert S. Boynton saw a photograph of these men and women, he became obsessed with their story. Torn from their homes as young adults, living for a quarter century in a strange and hostile country, they were returned with little more than an apology from the secretive regime.

In The Invitation-Only Zone, Boynton untangles the bizarre logic behind the abductions. Drawing on extensive interviews with the abductees, Boynton reconstructs the story of their lives inside North Korea and ponders the existential toll the episode has had on them, and on Japan itself. He speaks with nationalists, spies, defectors, diplomats, abductees, and even crab fishermen, exploring the cultural and racial tensions between Korea and Japan that have festered for more than a century.

A deeply reported, thoroughly researched book, The Invitation-Only Zone is a riveting story of East Asian politics and of the tragic human consequences of North Korea’s zealous attempt to remain relevant in the modern world.

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About the Author:

Robert S. Boynton’s journalism has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications. He is the author of The New New Journalism and directs the Literary Reportage program at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University.

Review:

"The abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea is an extreme story, and often hard to believe, but The Invitation-Only Zone is a clear, objective account of the situation... Boynton expertly balances each personal story with a wider analysis of contextual history, and this is where the book's real value lies -- by looking beyond the filter of recent history... A timely and important book."
The Japan Times

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Book Description Farrar, Straus Giroux Inc, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Throughout the late 1970s and early 80s, dozens of Japanese citizens were abducted from coastal Japanese towns by North Korean commandos. In what proved to be part of a global project, North Korea attempted to reeducate the abductees and train them to spy on the state s behalf. When the project faltered, the abductees were hidden in guarded communities known as Invitation-Only Zones -the fiction being that these were exclusive enclaves, not prisons. In 2002, Kim Jong II admitted to kidnapping thirteen Japanese citizens and returned five of them (the other eight, he said, had died). From the moment that Robert S. Boynton first saw a photograph of these men and women, he became obsessed with the window their story provided into the vexed politics of Northeast Asia. In The lnvitation- Only Zone, he untangles the logic behind the kidnappings and shows why some Japanese citizens described them as their 9/11. He tells the story of how dozens were abducted and reeducated; how they married and had children; and how they lived anonymously as North Korean citizens. He speaks with nationalists, diplomats, abductees, and even crab fishermen, unearthing bizarre North Korean propaganda tactics and the peculiar cultural interests of both counties. A deeply reported, thoroughly researched treatise on the power struggle of one of the most important areas in the global economy, Boynton s keen investigation is riveting and revelatory. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780374175849

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Book Description Farrar, Straus Giroux Inc, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Throughout the late 1970s and early 80s, dozens of Japanese citizens were abducted from coastal Japanese towns by North Korean commandos. In what proved to be part of a global project, North Korea attempted to reeducate the abductees and train them to spy on the state s behalf. When the project faltered, the abductees were hidden in guarded communities known as Invitation-Only Zones -the fiction being that these were exclusive enclaves, not prisons. In 2002, Kim Jong II admitted to kidnapping thirteen Japanese citizens and returned five of them (the other eight, he said, had died). From the moment that Robert S. Boynton first saw a photograph of these men and women, he became obsessed with the window their story provided into the vexed politics of Northeast Asia. In The lnvitation- Only Zone, he untangles the logic behind the kidnappings and shows why some Japanese citizens described them as their 9/11. He tells the story of how dozens were abducted and reeducated; how they married and had children; and how they lived anonymously as North Korean citizens. He speaks with nationalists, diplomats, abductees, and even crab fishermen, unearthing bizarre North Korean propaganda tactics and the peculiar cultural interests of both counties. A deeply reported, thoroughly researched treatise on the power struggle of one of the most important areas in the global economy, Boynton s keen investigation is riveting and revelatory. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780374175849

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