Wednesday, November 29, 2006


The opening weekends in Japan and Washington, DC proved to be very successful. In Tokyo, people waited for two hours outside theaters to get tickets to see "ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story". In DC, Landmark Theaters decided to show the film for another week as a result of its popularity. A fantastic start for the film in its first weekend!!

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Yokota documentary opens in Japan
The Yomiuri Shimbun

A documentary film on the activities over the past 29 years by Shigeru and Sakie Yokota in trying to reunite with their daughter Megumi, who was abducted by North Korea, opened Saturday with the hope it will raise more awareness on the abduction issue.

"Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story" is directed by Chris Sheridan, a one-time producer for a Canadian TV station, and his wife, Patty Kim, who was an anchor at the station.

The documentary has already been shown in the United States and Canada and is scheduled for release in South Korea.

Shigeru said, "I hope the film will become widely known through word of mouth by those who watch it, raising awareness of the abduction issue worldwide."

Sheridan, 37, and Kim, 36, first learned about the abduction in an article in The Washington Post following the Japan-North Korea summit meeting in September 2002. From the article, they learned Megumi, was only 13 years old when she was abducted by North Korea in 1977.

Kim said through the abduction issue, people can also see the love of Megumi's family, which has been trying to rescue her.

Many viewers at screenings in the United States were moved by the story of the Yokotas, who have been looking for their daughter for nearly 30 years, she added.

The film was selected for the Best Documentary Audience Award at the Slamdance Film Festival held in January in Utah. The film also received honors at six film festivals.

The film also has been shown in Australia and New Zealand.

The 80-minute film shows the Yokotas giving talks about the abduction issue across the nation, as well as trivial family matters.

In 1979, when the government had yet to formally recognize Megumi as a North Korean abduction victim, Sakie appeared on a program for a commercial TV station to seek information about her missing daughter.

On the program, Sakie spoke to the viewers, hoping Megumi was one of them, saying, "Megumi, I really don't think you'd just leave us." The clip is included in the documentary.

The film opened at 37 movie theaters in 18 prefectures Saturday and is scheduled to be released in about 70 movie theaters in 38 prefectures by mid-February.

At Cinema Gaga, a movie theater in Shibuya, Tokyo, its roughly 200 seats were soon filled for the first screening starting at 9:40 a.m. Saturday. Some audience members were heard sobbing through the showing, while many others seemed engrossed in the film.

After the screening, Shigeru, Sakie and Teruaki Masumoto, 51, secretary general of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, spoke on the stage.

Shigeru, 74, said: "The packed theater indicates a high interest in the abduction issue, and I feel very encouraged. I believe this film will be of great help in solving the issue."

Sakie, 70, said: "The film reveals our suffering, frustration and everything. I think those who watched the film could understand what the abduction is all about and what kind of country North Korea is to us."

Kazue Nakaijma, 68, of Suginami Ward, Tokyo, who watched the film, said, "I'm close to the Yokotas' age, and my eldest daughter is almost the same age as Ms. Megumi, so I could feel strongly the family's sadness for Megumi going missing."

"I hope the Yokotas can be reunited with their daughter soon," she added.

(Nov. 26, 2006)

Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006

Award-winning documentary film on Megumi Yokota debuts in Japan
Kyodo News

A critically acclaimed Canadian documentary about one of the North Korean abductees hit screens across Japan Saturday.

Shigeru Yokota (right) and his wife, Sakie, look at messages posted Saturday in a theater in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, by viewers of a Canadian documentary about their daughter, Megumi, who was abducted by North Korea in 1977.

"Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story" was released in 37 theaters in Tokyo and 17 other prefectures, including Hokkaido, Kanagawa, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. It will be shown in 20 other prefectures by mid-February.

Directed by journalists Chris Sheridan and his wife, Patty Kim, the film details what Yokota's parents, Shigeru and Sakie, have been through since their 13-year-old daughter was abducted in 1977 and their struggle to enlist government help in rescuing her and other abductees.

The parents made speeches Saturday morning at a sold-out cinema in Tokyo's Shibuya area.

The full theater "represents the keen interest toward the abduction issue. I feel grateful and encouraged. I believe this movie will be a major help to solve the issue," Shigeru Yokota, 74, said.

Sakie Yokota, 70, said, "I hope you will continue supporting us until the issue is resolved completely."

Among its honors, the 85-minute film was named best documentary at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and won the audience award at the Slamdance Film Festival in Utah earlier this year.

North Korea admitted to abducting Yokota and 12 other Japanese in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Saturday, November 25, 2006



Megumi Yokota film opens in Japan
Saturday, November 25, 2006 at 14:31 EST
TOKYO — A critically acclaimed documentary telling the story of a Japanese girl kidnapped by North Korean agents who became a symbol of one of Japan's most thorny diplomatic issues, hit screens across Japan Saturday. "Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story" was released in 37 movie theaters in 18 prefectures, including Hokkaido, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. It will be shown in 20 other prefectures as well by the mid-February.

Directed by Canadian journalists Chris Sheridan and his wife, Patty Kim, the film details what Megumi's parents, Shigeru and Sakie, have been through since their 13-year-old daughter's 1977 abduction and their struggle to enlist Japanese government help in rescuing her and other abductees. The parents made speeches Saturday morning at a theater in Tokyo's Shibuya area, where the 200 seats were full from the day's first showing.

The 85-minute film won Best Documentary at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and the Audience Awards at the Slamdance Film Festival in Utah, among others, earlier this year.


Stealing Lives To Pilfer Secrets
A Child Is Kidnapped, and Political Hostility Is to Blame
By Anita Huslin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 24, 2006; Page C01

Years before Adam Walsh and Polly Klass and Elizabeth Smart, there was Megumi Yokota.

She was 13 and loved badminton and singing in the choir. Then one day 29 years ago, she started walking home from school in Niigata, Japan, with a friend. They parted ways at the intersection where Megumi always turned right, and her friend went left. Her family hasn't seen her since.

In the beginning, they thought she might have been injured and was unable to get home. Perhaps she ran away. As time passed, the thoughts became darker. Kidnapped, raped, murdered.

When the answer finally emerged 20 years later, it was worse than anything they had imagined. They were not up against a deranged individual, but a despotic government that could not be brought to justice. And their own government, for the longest time, refused to intercede.

Now, two D.C. filmmakers have chronicled the sad quest of Shigeru and Sakie Yokota in an 85-minute documentary, "Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story." With painstaking reporting and poignant interviews, the husband-and-wife team of Patty Kim and Chris Sheridan trace the frustrations of the Yokotas over the years as they try to make the case that their daughter was grabbed by North Korean agents to teach Japanese culture and language to their spies.

"Abduction," which opens Nov. 24 at the E Street Cinema, portrays the couple's rise to the fore of an anguished fraternity of parents -- both South Korean and Japanese -- who suspect their children have been kidnapped by the Pyongyang government.

Twenty years after Megumi disappears, her parents learn from a North Korean spy who defected that the kidnapping was a mistake. Her abductors hadn't realized she was so young. The rest of the abductees had been older, students and professionals in their early 20s. The Yokotas have learned to use this fact to attract international attention to their story.

Pursuing the narrative was Kim's idea. Then a host for the cable show "National Geographic on Assignment," she read a newspaper article several years ago about the kidnappings. She and Sheridan left their jobs -- he worked as a producer on the same show -- and spent two years doing research and interviews. They ran up their credit cards and took freelance jobs to finance the project.

After debuting at the Slamdance Film Festival in Utah, and winning awards there and at others in Austin, Dallas, San Francisco and Toronto, "Abduction" was screened for the Japanese prime minister and members of the Japanese parliament in Tokyo this year. From Washington, it goes on to major U.S. cities, Canada and Great Britain.

In a piece of footage shot by a Japanese television station a year and a half after Megumi disappeared, a young Sakie Yokota stands before a camera and makes a tearful plea "to the people of Japan, if you know something about this, even if it's something small, please call." Later, she blames herself. "I'm not perfect. I wondered if I failed her. Or there was something I didn't know about her."

From there, Kim and Sheridan retrace the couple's transformation into the activists that no parents would ever wish to become.

The Yokotas join other families who are fighting for official recognition of North Korea's misdeeds. It takes 20 years for them to get the Japanese government to acknowledge the problem. When it does, the North Koreans simply deny it. "As the rest of the world knows, our country has nothing to do with abductions or other terrorist activities," North Korean state radio insists. Diplomatic negotiations begin, but are drawn out over the years.

Meanwhile, the families try to carry on with their lives, leaving notes behind on the doors of their old homes when they move. Decades later, it is the defector who offers information about what happened to their daughter. He says she was snatched from the street and taken to a cargo ship, where she vomited and cried for her mother on the trip to Pyongyang, clawing the walls until her hands bled.

The Yokotas meet the families of other abductees: In Fukui, a 24-year-old carpenter, Yashushi Chimura, and his date, Fukui Hamamoto, disappeared from a beach. In Kagoshima, a 24-year-old phone company employee, Shuichi Ichikawa, vanished with his girlfriend, Rumiko Masumoto, also 24, after they went to watch the sunset at the beach. In Niigata, a 22-year-old college student named Kaoru Hasuike and his girlfriend, Yukiko Okudo, went missing while on a date.

Sakie changes from a helpless, weeping mother into a poised, relentless advocate. She and her husband visit Washington with a group of other parents to testify before Congress. They protest outside the ruling party's headquarters in Japan. When North Korea seeks rice and other humanitarian aid from Japan, she and others urge the prime minister to link any aid to admission by North Korea of the kidnappings, and the return of their family members.

"I'm not a strong person," Sakie says at one point, sitting in the tiny apartment she shares with her husband. But the cause has taken over her life. "When she disappeared, the sadness knocked me as low as I could go." She turned to Bible classes for the first time and found solace. "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away," she says.

"If there's a God, then He'd give Megumi back to us," her husband retorts.

It is not until 2002 that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il acknowledges the kidnappings. Encouraged, but not satisfied, the families press Japan to find out more about their loved ones and bring them back.

"I strongly protested to Kim Jong Il," said Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, after North Korea finally confirms that the Japanese indeed had been kidnapped so they could teach Japanese to Pyongyang's agents and its spies could assume their identities.

Eventually, the North Korean government says that eight of the Japanese abductees are dead, and allows the remaining five to return to Japan. North Korea says Megumi committed suicide, but her parents remain dubious.

The film depicts lives that have been frozen in time by the abductions, and aged by them, as well. A mother grows gray and dies. A father, on his deathbed, apologizes to his missing daughter that he will not be there to see her come home. Another father dusts his son's model airplanes, still sitting in the bedroom he last occupied 30 years ago. A young girl, wearing her mother's kimono and her first hint of lipstick, gazes from a photograph taken months before she disappeared.

"Behind every geopolitical mess you see people like this whose lives have been drastically altered in some way," Kim says. "You'd think this could never happen in real life. But I can imagine my mom and dad standing outside a stone government building and shouting at the officials inside."

The film, she says, resonates on another level as well.

"Without passion you will fail, because that is the only thing that will sustain you."

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Check out the Japanese website for the film:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


(l-r) Chris Sheridan (director/producer "ABDUCTION"), Patty Kim (director/producer "ABDUCTION"), Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato, Terry Adamson (Senior Vice President, National Geographic Society) at Monday's premiere of "ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story".

Well, one premiere down, many more to go. Monday night's theatrical premiere of "ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story" in Washington, DC was definitely a highlight in the life of this film. Politicians, Ambassadors, policymakers and regular folks showed up at the National Geographic Society headquarters to see the film. After the screening of the film Patty and I were joined on stage by Teruaki Masumoto whose sister was abducted in 1978 by North Korean agents. Masumoto is one of the people featured in the film. A very engaged audience asked questions for about 20 minutes before everyone proceeded a reception in National Geographic's Hubbard Hall. A very successful night and a great opening for the film in Washington. Now onto the E Street Theaters on Friday where the film will open to the general public. We're very anxious and excited to see how the film does in our hometown. We've worked really hard to get the word out and it seems to be working. We'll be on hand for Q&As throughout the weekend so come on by if you're in the DC area!

Monday, November 06, 2006


Preem date nabbed
Doc focuses on N. Korean kidnappings
Gaga has set a Nov. 25 launch in Japan for the documentary "Abduction," which centers on a series of kidnappings that have remained a hot-button topic there for decades.
But after North Korea's nuclear bomb detonations last month, the events have taken on global implications that are, well, explosive.

The film centers on a 13-year-old Japanese girl who vanished on her way home from school in November 1977. As her family searched for her, it became clear that there were a dozen other kidnappings of Japanese people, conducted by North Korea. The families campaigned for the return of their relatives, not knowing if any of them were still alive. Doc reveals the strange motives behind the kidnappings as it explores the fates of the 13.

The abductions became a key campaign issue in the recent election of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In the past month, North Korea's treatment of foreigners has become a factor as other countries wrangle with its leader, Kim Jong-Il, over the nuclear issue. (Kim has given inadvertent publicity to the doc by putting the country more in the spotlight.)

"Abduction" gets its U.S. launch on Nov. 24 at the E Street Theater in D.C. The pic also bows Jan. 12 at the Cinema Village in New York.

The film was made by D.C.-based filmmakers Patty Kim and Chris Sheridan and exec produced by Jane Campion ("The Piano"). It was produced by Safari Media in association with the BBC, with Safari handling international rights.

Read the full article at:

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"ABDUCTION" featured this weekend on PBS

For immediate release

Washington, DC An award-winning film about a Japanese girl abducted by North Korean spies will be featured on PBS's "Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria" this weekend. "ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story" tells the story of 13-year-old Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped while walking home from school in 1977. The film follows her parents' emotional 30-year struggle to bring her home. "ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story" has won six awards in the US and received critical praise from the Los Angeles Times, which called the film "extraordinary". The film will be released theatrically in Washington, DC on November 24th at Landmark's E Street Theatres.
"Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria" airs Sunday, November 5 at 9am on PBS (WETA in Washington, DC).

For more info on the show, go to