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Synopsis

Ranging from Geneva to Pyongyang, this remarkable book takes readers on an odyssey through one of the most extraordinary forgotten tragedies of the Cold War: the "return" of over 90,000 people, most of them ethnic Koreans, from Japan to North Korea from 1959 onward. Presented to the world as a humanitarian venture and conducted under the supervision of the International Red Cross, the scheme was actually the result of political intrigues involving the governments of Japan, North Korea, the Soviet Union, and the United States. The great majority of the Koreans who journeyed to North Korea in fact originated from the southern part of the Korean peninsula, and many had lived all their lives in Japan. Though most left willingly, persuaded by propaganda that a bright new life awaited them in North Korea, the author draws on recently declassified documents to reveal the covert pressures used to hasten the departure of this unwelcome ethnic minority. For most, their new home proved a place of poverty and hardship; for thousands, it was a place of persecution and death. In rediscovering their extraordinary personal stories, this book also casts new light on the politics of the Cold War and on present-day tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world.

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