Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story

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SPIRITED AWAY Yokota, just before her disappearance.
SPIRITED AWAY Yokota, just before her disappearance.

Time Out says

You’d think the kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl would be enough drama for any documentary. Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story doesn’t quite seem sure at first, its directors treading on the quiet testimony of parents, still hurting after nearly 30 years (the snatch happened in 1977), with zip pans and, in one unfortunate instance, an echo effect on a wail: “Megumi! (gumi, gumi...)”

But filmmakers Patty Kim and Chris Sheridan quickly rebound into unexpected territory as a bizarre culprit comes into view: Dear Leader Kim Jong Il. Or at least the spies in his service. As a dynamic Korean defector explains and journalists corroborate, North Korea had a covert program of kidnapping Japanese for the purposes of educating its undercover agents in voice and manner. Little girls, too? Apparently that was an error. Suddenly, Abduction takes on the weight of Kafkaesque nightmare.

As an awareness-raiser, this is notable; the abduction issue is a major matter in current diplomatic tensions, with North Korea stonewalling on key admissions. But the doc ends inconclusively, with little action toward progress. A fiction film might have exploited this to cynical effect, as does Bong Joon-ho’s 2003 Memories of Murder. But here it seems rushed; the subject deserves revisiting when more persuasive efforts are being made at reconciliation. (Opens Fri; Cinema Village.) — Joshua Rothkopf

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