The inspiration for Robert S. Boynton
's new book began with a photograph in the New York Times
in October 2002. In the photo, two middle-aged Japanese couples and a single woman descending from a plane at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. The headline read, "Tears and Hugs as 5 Abducted Japanese Go Home to Visit." From a chance look at this photo, a project that spanned several years and many months in Japan and South Korea was born. The resulting book, The Invitation-Only Zone: The True Story of North Koreas Abduction Project
(Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2016), is an fascinatingly and compellingly written account of a series of abductions from Japan (as well as other parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East) from the late 1970s through the their contemporary after-effects. Boynton's book weaves the story of the abductees and abductors together with a modern history of Japanese/Korean relations that contextualizes the abduction story within a broader frame of colonialism and its histories. This is an important story that is also a joy to read, featuring some unforgettable figures the Japanese Indiana Jones! a super-rockin' sushi chef! and is highly recommended!