Friday, December 22, 2006


After a successful four weeks in DC, the film's now off to bigger and better thing. Here's where we'll be next month...

Opens Jan. 12
Cinema Village
22 E. 12th Street
(212) 924-3363

Jan. 3rd, 7th, 16th
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Downtown
409 Colorado Street
(512) 476-1320

Opens Jan. 26
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 North State Street
(312) 846-2600

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


It's been awhile since we posted messages from people who are going to the film.
Here are some recent ones that we've been getting from viewers...

Dear Chris and Patty: Congratulations on a magnificent achievement.
Although I was unable to accept your invitation to the premier, I later
saw the film along with my family at the E Street Theater. You have
captured this bizarre tragedy in a moving drama focusing on the families
and their milieu. As a senior State Department official, I met the
families on their first visit to Washington in 2001. I had earlier
raised the plight of the abductees in numerous meetings with the North
Koreans. No one can watch your film without understanding how deeply
this episode has affected Japan. I will certainly recommend that
friends in New York and Washington see the film. Best regards, Tom
(the writer is a former US Ambassador)

Dear Chris and Patty:

I did go down and see Abduction last Friday.
I went to the demonstration by the Japanese NGOs in front of the White House
right after the movie, protesting against abduction by Kim Jong-il. The
movie was very powerful, and I cried a lot. Especially when I had to watch
the mothers crying for their children. Megumi has been a big part of the
Kim Jong-il's Genocide Exhibit, and I knew her story better than others.
However, it was different watching your movie, I was overwhelmed. I read it
has been a huge success in DC as well as in Japan. You worked so hard you
deserve all the applause and awards Abduction got. Hope to see you soon
sometime in the near future. I wrote an article about you and Abduction
yesterday in Korean for the ignorant and selfish people in South Korea. I
hope Abduction turns them around, and helps save our people in North Korea.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you!

Warm regards,


Dear Chris and Patty,
I just went to see the film last weekend at E St. cinema in DC. I have been really eager to watch the film and was extremely moved by the personal touch you put on the story. Audiences related extremely well with Megumi's and other families that lost loved ones to such hedious acts of terrorism. I found myself crying over some scenes as I also heard some sobs across the theatre. It was an extremely powerful story and I really congratulate you on telling it so well on film. Your movie has really inspired me to do some further research on the abduction issue and I wish you continued success on future screenings and your next films.

Dear Chris and Patty,

I just watched your film last week, and am writing to express many
thanks from my heart to your efforts.
I could not stop my tears all through the film. Both from my individual
and objective perspectives, I will not forget this film forever.
Although I know some of the story, the film makes me renew my feelin
and thinking. At the individual level, I thought about parents', including
my parents', deep and infinite loves, and was stunned by Yokota-san's
continuing beliefs and efforts even facing piles of obstacles and
hardships. I felt a stream of strength and warmth through the darkness of life and
For the objective part, I thought back about how the decision-making is
slow in the government, and how the civil society tends to overlook
important issues. If I have any chance to go back to Japan to teach college
students in international studies that is my area, I would like to discuss with
them how the individual lives are related to the international society with
your film. For the time being, I will recommend my friends in Japan to take
a look at your film.

Best Regards,


Hey Patty,

I thought it was a really great film. I was especially impressed by your ability to tell a story - just the right amount of big picture and small details to maintain interest. Showing the private lives of Megumi's parents also brought an intimacy to the story that totally involved me. You should be very proud.


I just saw an incredible film tonight called "Abduction." It's a documentary about the
kidnapping of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents. You need to see this film! It's at the Landmark E Street Theatre.




Japan Rightists Fan Fury Over North Korea Abductions


Published: December 17, 2006

TOKYO, Dec. 16 — The Japanese government’s posters show the map of a blood-red North Korea blotting out the eyes of a Japanese teenager. They hint darkly that this country’s youth are at risk and urge Japanese to open their eyes to the threat from North Korea.

The posters were on prominent display at a rally this week to call attention to Japanese abducted by North Korea three decades ago and who, Japan says, are still held there.

The people who usually show up at such events — family members, their supporters, members of right-wing organizations — waited for a special first-time guest: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “We can never compromise on the abduction issue,” Mr. Abe told the crowd. “I swear that my administration will tackle this as its top priority.”

Outside Japan, the abductions may have played out long ago, after North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, admitted four years ago that the crimes had occurred and returned five survivors. But here, they are still a burning issue, kept alive in the news media every day by nationalist politicians and groups that pound at the topic as firmly as their cherished goals, such as jettisoning the pacifist Constitution and instilling patriotism and moral values in schools.

The highly emotional issue has contributed to silencing more moderate voices who expose themselves to physical harm or verbal threats from the right wing.

By championing this one cause, Mr. Abe rose from obscurity to become prime minister three months ago. But Mr. Abe, who has backpedaled on economic changes undertaken by his popular predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, has begun to plummet in the polls. To survive politically, he will probably have to keep leaning on the abduction issue.

In a move that raised concerns about the news media’s freedom, Mr. Abe recently ordered the public broadcaster, NHK, to further emphasize abductions in its international radio broadcasts. NHK agreed, even though it had already been devoting about a third of its news content to the topic in the first nine months of this year, according to NHK.

The National Police Agency announced last month that it had identified yet another Japanese abductee, Kyoko Matsumoto, the 17th. The police offered no fresh evidence to back up its announcement. Its chief, Iwao Uruma, said simply of the abduction issue, “I want to send a signal that Japan has not forgotten about it.”

The announcement fanned anger across the nation as the national media converged on Ms. Matsumoto’s hometown, Yonago, a remote city in western Japan. They showed her frail 83-year-old mother clutching the cardigan her daughter had knitted for her before vanishing in 1977.

At a Sunday rally in Yonago, attended by the mother and a brother, right-wing supporters offered encouragement but also expounded on pet causes. Kazuhiro Araki, national leader of the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese, a private group, harshly criticized postwar Japan’s exclusive emphasis on self-defense and rejection of offensive weapons.

“This is nothing but a complete delusion,” he said.

Later, in an interview in Tokyo, Mr. Araki said he believed the decision to name Ms. Matsumoto was a political one. “I think there was almost no new information,” he said of the police investigation. “The Abe administration came into power and told everyone to do something, and so the police offered this card.”

In an interview inside his home in Yonago, Hajime Matsumoto, 59, the brother, said the family was relieved that Ms. Matsumoto had finally been recognized as an abductee. He said he felt uncomfortable that nationalists were trying to advance their causes through unresolved abductions, but he was also philosophical about it.

“In a sense, that can’t be helped,” he said. “For example, if they try to work on educational issues and constitutional revision without the abduction issue, I think it would be extremely difficult to make a breakthrough in Parliament.”

“It’s easier for them to put a substantial agenda on the table and place an issue like the abduction issue on top, grouping four or five issues together,” he said. “It’s a means to an end.”

Indeed, this week Mr. Abe’s governing Liberal Democrat Party passed an education law that emphasizes patriotism, moral values and the public good. The government built support for the law by paying people to ask leading questions and make supportive statements at town meetings across the country, a government report said.

But the abduction issue is so delicate that the media do not report on the right-wing groups behind the movement, and most Japanese remain unaware of it.

Kyoko Nakayama, special adviser to Mr. Abe on abductions, denied that the government was exploiting the subject. The government says 12 of the 17 Japanese kidnapped by North Korea are still unaccounted for; the North says they died or were never kidnapped in the first place.

“If people see we are taking advantage of the abduction issue for political purposes,” Ms. Nakayama said in an interview, “I think nobody would support us. A considerable number of Japanese citizens have been abducted. They’re not allowed to make even a phone call and have been stripped of their freedom. That fact itself indicates that the security of the Japanese is being threatened.”

Challenging the political importance of the abduction issue has become such a taboo that even opposition politicians refrain from doing so. Liberal journalists and scholars expand privately on the manipulation of the abduction issue, but few dare to make public comments.

“The abduction issue is something that everyone, even schoolchildren, can understand,” said Yoneyuki Sugita, a historian at Osaka University. “Prime Minister Abe is using this issue to try to carry out certain political goals. North Korea is evil, and to respond against it, he is effectively saying that Japan must revise its Constitution and promote patriotism in its schools. This is the direction in which he is pushing this country. This has been very successful.”

“But it’s also very dangerous,” said Mr. Sugita, who received threats from the right wing after publishing an essay on this subject. “It’s become such an emotional issue, and fanned nationalism in such a way, that it has already encroached on freedom of speech.”

The issue has silenced Japanese moderates critical of the government’s overall hawkish domestic and foreign policies.

One exception, Koichi Kato, a senior lawmaker in Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, has been an outspoken critic of hard-line policies toward Asia and of the resurgent nationalism in Japan. In August, a right-wing official angered by Mr. Kato’s comments burned down his family home before trying unsuccessfully to commit hara-kiri.

“It’s not only the abduction issue, but also anti-China and anti-North Korea sentiments,” Mr. Kato said of the subjects fueling Japanese nationalism, choosing his words cautiously.

Katsumi Sato, 77, leader of the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea, a private organization with chapters nationwide, said he was focused only on the abductees. But in an interview, he said many of his group’s regional leaders were also active in Nippon Kaigi, Japan’s largest nationalist organization, which rejects postwar pacifism, embraces the imperial system and defends Japan’s past wars in Asia.

“In the regions, there are some right-wingers in our movement, a fact which makes it look extremely tilted to the right,” said Mr. Sato, who was invited to meet Mr. Abe a few days after he was elected.

In Yonago, Yuichi Imaoka, 81, is the head of both the rescue association and Nippon Kaigi. In Mr. Abe, Mr. Imaoka said he believed he had a leader who would redress what he saw as the perversions of postwar Japan, like the overemphasis on individualism and loss of male prerogative, which, to him, had given women and children too many rights.

Like many in Nippon Kaigi, Mr. Imaoka credits America, not for bringing democracy to Japan, but for emasculating it with pacifism.

“Isn’t it ridiculous that it’s a taboo to have a debate on whether we should have nuclear arms?” he said, echoing Mr. Abe’s top aides. “We should discuss it freely.”

Friday, December 15, 2006


The film's been held over yet another week at the E Street Theaters in Washington, DC (corner of E and 11th Streets NW)!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


What great news! The E Street Theaters are holding the film for another week until December 14th. So, if you haven't seen it, you still have time to check it out. The corner of E Street and 11th NW, Washington, DC. Website is

Monday, December 04, 2006



Without a Trace
Megumi Yokota was 13 when the North Koreans kidnapped her in 1977. She hasn't been heard from since.

Sunday, December 3, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

Scene: A lonely residential street in the city of Niigata, along the western coast of Japan.

Time: Late afternoon in the autumn of 1977.

Action: A 13-year-old girl is walking home from school, having stayed late for badminton practice. She waves goodbye to friends, turns the corner, and is never seen again.

This is the true story of "Abduction," a documentary that opened in Japan last weekend after winning accolades at several international film festivals. The lost girl is Megumi Yokota. In 2002, North Korea admitted that it had kidnapped Megumi, along with 12 other Japanese citizens, enslaving them for the purpose of training its spies to pass as Japanese. "Megumi-chan," or "Little Megumi," is now a household name in Japan. President Bush met with Megumi's mother and brother in the White House last April, calling it "one of the most moving meetings since I've been the President."

In the wake of North Korea's recent nuclear test and missile launches, it's easy to neglect the other central fact of Kim Jong Il's regime: its abuse of human rights. This is the preferred approach of Beijing, whose stated policy is to track down and repatriate the tens of thousands of desperate North Koreans who have crossed the border into northeast China. It refuses to let the United Nations help the refugees and sends them back to face prison camps or worse.

More grotesquely, it is also the attitude of South Korea, which closes its eyes to the North's depredations. It permits what amounts to slave labor in the Kaesong joint economic zone over the border in the North. Moreover, President Roh Moo-hyun's "sunshine policy" has shed no light on the fate of several hundred South Koreans who were kidnapped by the North or the hundreds of Korean War soldiers from the South whom Pyongyang has been holding as POWs for more than 50 years.

As "Abduction" explains, it took years before Megumi's parents suspected what had happened to their daughter, and even now, the full story remains unknown. In the film, Ahn Myong-Jin, a former North Korean spy who defected to the South in 1993, describes what his instructor at the spy school--a Mr. Chung--told him about Megumi's kidnapping. The girl was hidden inside a steel compartment in the hold of a freighter during the 200-mile journey to North Korea, he says, scratching at the door so hard in an effort to escape that her nails came off. Mr. Chung felt "terrible," he says, when he discovered he had grabbed a child. Mr. Ahn remembers seeing the grown-up Megumi once, a beautiful young woman with "pure eyes."
Akitaka Saiki, who led Japan's negotiations with Pyongyang on the abduction issue and is now deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, says the "Japanese government has identified that at least 17 Japanese citizens have been abducted in 12 separate cases." Are there others? "There are still others who disappeared suddenly without good reason--suddenly from the beach, suddenly from a train station. We've identified 17 people with 100% certainty. There may be more." No. 17--a 29-year-old woman kidnapped in 1977 on her way to a knitting class--was added to the list only two weeks ago.

Pyongyang has permitted just five abductees to return to Japan, and Mr. Saiki expresses skepticism about its explanations for what happened to the rest. One supposedly died in a traffic accident, but "how could a traffic accident have occurred in a country that has so few automobiles?" he asks. Another was said to have had a heart attack, "but that's hard to accept about a woman in her 20s."

And what of Megumi? In Pyongyang, in November 2004, North Korea announced that she had killed herself in 1994, handing over her "remains" to Mr. Saiki. Subsequent DNA analysis showed that they were not Megumi's. Mr. Ahn, the former North Korean spy, says he has heard that she was teaching Japanese to Kim Jong Il's son. Is she still alive? "That's what we believe," says Mr. Saiki.
Japan always raises the kidnapping of its citizens in the six-party talks, Mr. Saiki says. "The main topic is nuclear, but for us, we always remind North Korea and the other participants in the talks of the abduction issue. . . . Russia, China and South Korea, even, are not very eager to have human rights discussed in a multilateral setting," he says, but they go along. "The U.S. government always supports us."

Meanwhile, as they wait for her return, Megumi's parents, and the relatives of other Japanese whose sons or daughters, brothers or sisters were kidnapped by North Korea, wear blue ribbons in their honor. The blue symbolizes the sea that divides the families from their loved ones and the sky that unites them.

Ms. Kirkpatrick is a deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.

Friday, December 01, 2006


DC screenings extended another week

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, DC Following a strong opening weekend in Washington, DC, "ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story" has come out as the top film at the E Street Theaters. Landmark Theaters, which owns and operates the E Street Theaters in DC, reported its attendance numbers Thursday night. "This is wonderful news," said Chris Sheridan, who, along with his wife, Patty Kim, directed and produced the documentary film. "It shows that audiences really want to see this film and want to hear the story of Megumi and her family."
"ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota" Story opened Friday, November 24th, Thanksgiving weekend, to excellent reviews in The Washington Post, the City Paper and the Washington Times. It beat out much larger, bigger-budgeted films like "The Fountain", "The Last King of Scotland" and "The Queen". It was only supposed to continue until November 30th, but Landmark Theaters decided to extend the film until December 7th due to its popularity.
The film tells the story of Megumi Yokota, a 13-year-old Japanese girl kidnapped by North Korean spies. The filmmakers followed her parents' emotional journey to try to bring her home.
"ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story" is produced in association with the BBC and with the assistance of Fuji TV. The Executive Producer of "ABDUCTION The Megumi Yokota Story" is Jane Campion, the Oscar-winning director of "The Piano".