Romanian Woman 'Kidnapped by N.Korea in 1978'

      March 22, 2007 09:05

      A Romanian woman who went missing in Rome in 1978 was abducted by a North Korean agent and lived in the North for some two decades, the Romanian daily Evenimentul Zilei reported in its March 20 issue. Doina Bumbea was 27 when she went missing.

      ◆ Missing in Italy

      Bumbea was born in the Romanian capital Bucharest in 1950. A talented artist, she married an Italian when she was 21 and went to Italy to study. She worked as a sculptor there. Her family said she came home regularly and phoned them every two weeks. But in October 1978 she disappeared.

      Her family reported her missing but were unable to track her down. According to the family, an Italian man approached Bumbea right before she went missing with an offer to exhibit in a gallery in Japan.

      A capture of the Evenimentul Zilei, a Romanian daily reporting the kidnapping of Doina Bumbea by North Korea in the late 1970s.

      ◆ Married U.S. Army Deserter

      The possibility that Bumbea fell victim to the North's bizarre abduction policy was first raised in the 2005 memoirs of Robert Jenkins, who deserted from barracks in the South and defected to North Korea.

      He later married Japanese abduction victim Hitomi Soga in Pyongyang and left with his wife in 2004, when some Japanese victims were repatriated. In his memoirs, Jenkins recalls that his wife lived with three other foreign women in Pyongyang, one of whom was a Romanian identified as "Doina."

      Jenkins says Doina taught North Korean agents foreign languages. On the orders of North Korean authorities, she married U.S. deserter James Joseph Dresnok and died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 47.

      ◆ Identified from Documentary

      The identification happened by chance. In 2006, the British filmmaker Daniel Gordon submitted a film entitled "Crossing the Line" to the Sundance Film Festival. It featured Dresnok, who had lived in Pyongyang for 44 years after deserting. In the film, Dresnok says his second wife was from Eastern Europe and introduced their son Gabriel.

      Watching the film, Bumbea's family were stunned by the close resemblance between Gabriel and the missing woman. Besides, Gabriel was also the name of her younger brother. The brother told a Romanian newspaper his namesake's eyes, nose and mouth closely resembled his sister's and guessed she called the child Gabriel because she missed her family.

      ◆ No Response

      After Jenkins's memoirs was published in 2005, the Romanian government asked North Korea for an explanation about Bumbea's abduction, but there has been no response. In February this year, Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan and asked him how Tokyo handled the abduction issue.

      Representatives from the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea testified in the U.S. Congress last year. They said North Korea abducted at least 523 people from 12 countries around the world since the Korea War broke out in 1950 -- 485 South Koreans, 16 Japanese, four Lebanese, four Malaysians, three French, three Italians, two Chinese, two Dutch, and one each from Thailand, Romania, Singapore and Jordan.

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