Bush vs. The Axis of Evil - TL

For what it is worth, I highly enjoyed your work too
Good luck with your career outside this genre and I hope our few exchanges while I commented on your timelines were enjoyable enough
I heard you're going to leave the site in a week @Sorairo I just wanna say thank you for everything once again.
For what it is worth, I highly enjoyed your work too
Good luck with your career outside this genre and I hope our few exchanges while I commented on your timelines were enjoyable enough
Sorairo said that he will still sporadically reply to PMs, he will just no longer publicly post comments on the forum.
Slightly unique format for this chapter, based on a real life and terrible incident - there's a lot of sadness in my timelines so I felt it incumbent upon me to try and bring some joy back. Some of the other famous kidnapping victims/defectors will appear later.


Extract from 'The Summoned Generation' by Heihachi Edajima (Minmei Publishing)

Megumi Yokota [1] was born on October 5th 1964 in Nagoya, Japan to her mother Sakie and father Shigeru. She lived a life as a child many Japanese felt nostalgic for - the era of Sakamoto Kyu, Ashita no Joe and Sezae-san. A part of the world that felt far removed from the crime waves of America, the upheavals in Europe and the wars on the Asian mainland. She was a happy, well-adjusted thirteen year old girl with friends, dreams and a future. In particular, she had an aptitude for both writing and sports, particularly badminton. At the same time, she loved her family deeply. They were close-knit, even for a Japanese family, with Megumi taking care of her younger siblings with a mother’s attention. That’s why, on November 15th 1977, when 13 year old Megumi didn’t come back home in time for dinner from badminton practice, her parents immediately began to worry. They ran up and down the street, called up the school, called up friends, but they couldn’t find her anywhere in Nagoya. That was because she wasn’t in Nagoya - she was in a boat on the Sea of Japan, taken further and further away from her family, towards North Korea.

Throughout the seventies and eighties, North Korea had kidnapped a number of Japanese citizens, with roughly twenty confirmed beyond doubt and many more suspected. Some women were kidnapped and compelled to be the wives of the Japan Air Lines Flight 351 hijackers. Others were used to teach Japanese language and culture in spy schools so said spies would launch further attacks upon the nation the kidnapped victim had been stolen from. In the case of Megumi, she had the appalling misfortune of accidentally stumbling upon a group of North Korean spies, who panicked and kidnapped her, not realizing how young she was in the dark. Megumi wept on the boat, wept on arrival, and wept in captivity. Separated from the family she loved so much, she would barely eat for the first month of her captivity. Eventually, she was told that she would return home to see her parents if she aided in training North Korean spies in Japanese language and customs - a deal she hurriedly and desperately agreed to, only to eventually realise as the years went on that the North Koreans had no intention of honouring that promise. Later, she was forced to marry a kidnapped South Korean, Kim Young-nam. In 1987, they had a daughter, Kim Eun-gyong. They were completely cut off from knowledge of the outside world - Megumi could scarcely have believed how hard her family were desperately trying to save their daughter.

While Megumi lived in hell, captive in North Korea, her parents lived in their own hell. Her father walked the town every night hoping to see her, someone was stationed at the house every moment in case a phone call came in. They talked to the newspapers, radio and television. They gave up their jobs, sold their home, and did everything In their power to find something or someone who could help find their girl. In twenty years since the kidnapping, no one had suspected a North Korean angle to the case, though her parents were always certain Megumi would never run away from her parents or siblings. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that a phone call came from a stranger called Tatsukichi Hayamoto that Megumi was indeed alive, and was married in North Korea after having been kidnapped. There was some controversy over this theory. For a long time the idea of North Korea kidnapping Japanese citizens was accused by elements of the Japanese Left (including the Japanese Socialist Party, the main opposition to the LDP) as a groundless fantasy concocted by the Japanese Right to justify rearmament. However, one increasingly important member of the Koizumi government was certain. He had become most prominent politician in Japan in the late 1990s and early 2000s regarding the case of the supposedly kidnapped Japanese citizens held by North Korea, representing victims’ families in media and parliament and tying it in with his more assertive vision for Japanese foreign policy. His name was Shinzo Abe.

In the aftermath of both the initial North Korean attack south and their defeat at Seoul, Japanese public opinion had monumentally swung away from pacifism. Doubts that North Koreans would be so insane or evil as to kidnap Japanese children rapidly vanished in the face of taking thousands of child hostages from murdered South Korean families. But more worryingly for the Japanese government, they knew that the imminent invasion north threatened the lives of the kidnapped Japanese that remained in North Korea. Since they weren’t ‘officially’ taken by North Korea, they were simply potential fifth columnists that couldn’t be traded. Thus the lives of the hostages were in danger, particularly Megumi, who was by far the most famous and the only one who had been abducted as a child. This made Abe come out to support something unfathomably risky - an operation to rescue Megumi before the North Koreans killed her.

This was easier said than done to say the least, especially given the black hole of information that was North Korea. They didn’t know where she was, how to get to her, and how the hell to get her out. Japan’s special forces were hardly world-beaters, its intelligence service was little better, and they were faced with a potentially futile mission anyway. Maybe she was already dead, maybe she had bought the propaganda and turned her back on Japan, maybe this was just an insane waste of resources when what was important was focussing on continuing to break the back of North Korea’s resistance. When Abe brought up the idea to a member of the Self-Defence forces, one unidentified member repeated those criticisms to him, to which the politician responded: “Sir, I understand your concerns, but this is what’s going to happen whether you like it or not: we’re going to rescue Megumi, she will come home and she will see her parents again.”

Grumpily, Japanese intelligence services (with limited help from the Koreans and Americans given their own litany of priorities) did their best to try and find some lead to where Megumi was. Then one agent noticed something - a copy of the Pyongyang directory listed a woman with the same birthdate as Megumi (Kim Eun-gong, the name of the daughter), with the same spousal name too (Kim Young-nam). This was hardly conclusive, but it was compelling. In response, the Cabinet decided this was sufficient proof to justify an operation. The problem was that the Japanese were not exactly known for their black op services. Consequently two parties were called up to plan what to do: the Korean National Intelligence Service, and the Israeli Mossad. The former owing to the necessity of getting the South Koreans on board for the mission to succeed, and Mossad because, if anyone knew anything about stunts out of a James Bond film, it was them.

The bombing runs on North Korea were not as indiscriminate as the ones that flattened the country in 1950-1953, but they were absolutely overwhelming and effectively shut down the ability of North Korea to see what was coming into their airspace. In the midst of the chaos, Mossad advisors argued, the South Koreans could infiltrate into Pyongyang, check if Megumi and her family were there, and get them out. Despite fears South Korea would not cooperate, the Japanese were surprised by the willingness of the South Koreans to go along with the plan - although given that the husband was a South Korean it was not an entirely altruistic move. Reportedly, in what has been much criticized since, one South Korean diplomat assured his Japanese counterparts that, “While we [South Korea and Japan] may be different, unlike them [the North Koreans], we’re both human.” Naturally, given that White people or Japanese speakers would be rather conspicuous attempting to infiltrate North Korea, only South Koreans would do the footwork - indeed the United Nations Command were not even told of the operation, although the Americans were individually contacted in case they eventually needed some heavy firepower. The South Koreans chosen would be three anonymous NIS members, all unusually short, deliberately starved to look more realistically North Korean and downpat on the most subtle of accentual differences. Their uniforms would be taken from North Korean prisoners, they would be given multiple packets of cigarettes for bribes and were given cyanide pills in case of capture.

Operation Guardian Angel had been meticulously planned by the South Koreans, Japanese with Mossad advisors in what little time they had - all for a girl (now a woman) whom they didn’t even fully know was alive. But the thought never entered their heads. They were going to save Megumi, and they were going to bring her home.

Extract from ‘Kim’s Footprint: How the War on Terror Changed Asia’ by Saeba Ryou

On October 30th 2002, the first South Korean boots crossed the ruins of the Joint Security Area on the former DMZ. They were surprised to find little armed resistance on the site, but found resistance in another way. The roads leading to the DMZ on the North Korean side had been thoroughly closed off, bombed and made impassable. Similar scenes repeated themselves across the former DMZ, a sparse collection of abandoned guideposts and impassable roads. Many wondered if the Allied bombing campaign had accomplished the intended effect and had simply dissolved the North Korean army. This especially inspired hope in the South Koreans because Kaesong, the city they were targeting, had formerly been part of South Korea before the First Korean War, and taking it back was considered a point of national pride and undoing an old humiliation. Unfortunately, the South Koreans simply found out that the impassable roads made ambush from the forests incredibly easy. On the rainy, muddy, cold roads north, the North Koreans fought the same war they fought against the Japanese: ambushes, hit-and-run and no pitched-engagements.

The response of the South Korean government was simple - overwhelming firepower. The forests were simply burned, and areas known to have North Korean guerillas were flattened by artillery. The Americans by contrast knew that the Battle of Tehran was coming up soon and that all troops would be needed for that over Pyongyang where everyone knew the South Koreans would take the lion’s share. As a result, the South Koreans were the primary witnesses of the horrors that lurked north of the former DMZ. Kaesong would be the first demonstration of how far the North Koreans would go to fight back. The South Koreans would find, to their dismay, an army that seemed the spiritual and moral equal of the Imperial Japanese Army - fanatical, suicidal and devoid of compassion.

The entirety of the city’s school-age population had been recruited by the military to either do military chores like dig trenches or to actually fight in the case of those over the age of 12. President Bush would ominously tell Rumsfeld in response to the reports that, ‘Sounds like what would have happened if we didn’t use Little Boy.’ The comparison with Operation Downfall stuck and the invasion of North Korea is now regularly used as an example of what would have awaited the Americans had Truman not dropped the Bomb on Japan in morality debates about Hiroshima. Documents recovered after the war revealed that the use of child soldiers had been encouraged by Kim Jong-il in order to ‘initiate psychological devastation on their murderers’, he said in reference to South Korean and UN troops (not, more appropriately, himself). The idea was that it would horrify Westerners and cause them to either accept that the North Koreans were committed to the cause beyond all reason and thus had to be let go, or to make people blame the US/South Korea for their deaths and undermine support for the war at home. However, subsequent polls showed that the reaction of most South Koreans to the use of child soldiers was simply to underscore the monstrosity of the North Koreans not just as a leadership but as a people entirely, further expanding the divide between the two Koreas.

The Winter of 2002 would be remembered by North Koreans as ‘The Black Winter’. Almost everyone knew someone who died that Winter by starvation, cold or disease, not to mention the war. It would have a profound psychological impact on the survivors, with millions forced to choose between their every moral and survival. The water pipelines in the major cities froze over and burst, hospitals that still had medicine were often simply barged into by soldiers who threw everything into a sack for use on the front and leaving the citizens with nothing, some simply collapsed dead in the breadlines. In one grocery store in Pyongyang, ‘horse-meat’ was the primary food left on the shelves, only for it later to be revealed after the war that they were simply the reprocessed remains of political dissidents. Even the North Korean soldiers were not safe from shortages, with the average North Korean soldier that Winter living off the same calorie-count as the average Gulag-prisoner did in the prior months. Many North Korean soldiers who survived the war remembered seeing comrades tear their muscles simply trying to pick up their guns, so badly had their bodies decayed that even lifting basic equipment was impossible. Others even claimed to have seen soldiers collapse in injury simply from being unable to push against the recoil.

One South Korean soldier would recall in the midst of the Battle of Kaesong that in hand to hand combat with a North Korean soldier, he said, ‘I hit him in his chest, and almost felt his whole body crumple inwards. I could hear his ribs snap, I could feel my hand sink into his chest - I didn’t see any blood. He fell on me, and I realized how light he was. I grabbed his arm and realized that my thumb was over my index finger - in other words, his arm was so withered that he simply had no muscle. My thirteen year old child at home was heavier than him. I wondered how in the name of God he was even alive beforehand, if he even was.’

Unfortunately, this became the excuse to push the use of child soldiers owing to their needing less food due to their smaller size, who became a horrifyingly common sight as the South Koreans poured into the city of Kaesong. Forty percent of South Korean soldiers who fought at Kaesong would develop PTSD from their experiences killing children as young as their own who were shooting at them - sometimes the children would approach them pretending to not be soldiers and explode grenades when they got close to the soldiers. As one South Korean soldier recalled, “I was ready to forgive them for killing my children, but I’ll never forgive them in a thousand generations for making me kill their children.” Adult commanders of the children were shown no mercy by South Korean troops, who were often simply beaten to death once captured, had their corpses shot and their deaths written off as ‘attempting to escape’. Adult North Korean soldiers that were captured were forced bury the children, but increasingly fewer North Koreans were surrendering. The sight of a UN soldier brought much relief to North Koreans, since they expected to be treated better, but the sight of a South Korean soldier seemed the premonition of death itself. One North Korean soldier wrote in his diary, based on the persistence and perseverance of South Korean troops he had witnessed, “We are not fighting Koreans - we are fighting demons from hell, who run towards bullets without fear.” The sheer hatred the South Koreans had of their northern neighbours by now was enough to give a frightful aura by itself.

To underscore the level of hatred and disgust that had grown inside South Koreans, the much expected reunions between families who had been divided by the border never happened - perhaps the most chilling case was of one elderly North Korean woman who was able to work out that one of the South Korean soldiers stationed at the processing camp she was her sister’s grandson. She dropped to his feet in joy, explaining that she had worked out she was his great aunt and part of the same family. But when she looked up, “He looked down on me as if I was human garbage - insulted to think he shared blood with one of ‘them’.”

The Battle of Kaesong occurred amidst a series of scary developments in the South Korean political space. By the time the city was finally declared secure on December 16th 2002, it had simply been reduced to rubble, with one French reporter observing “The city that is built on top of these ruins at best can only be called ‘Kaesong Two’ because not a brick of the old Kaesong remains’. The moral and ethnical considerations of protecting North Korean citizens had effectively disappeared from the public space. In the Presidential elections that December, Lee Hoi-chang of the Right-wing Grand National Party won the election in a landslide - while President KDJ remained respected by South Koreas, even among those who criticized his Sunshine Policy, his party did not have the same graciousness awarded to it. Lee ran on the campaign slogan of ‘Total Victory’ and promised South Koreans away from the frontline (mostly the elderly and women) that ‘your husbands, sons and brothers on the front are my first and only priority - their safety is more important than the safety of any North Korean anywhere up there’. It was considered a dog whistle that South Korea would engage in more indiscriminate, brutal bombing and shelling on the basis that it would reduce the amount of dead South Korean troops having to mop up the cities. The Millenium Democratic Party (KDJ’s party) would accuse Lee of this, only to find that many South Koreans quite liked the idea. They had already lost family, friends, homes, children all while they had done nothing but help and perform apologism for the north - to many, the North Koreans had signed their own death warrants, and that the population was simply brainwashed beyond saving and therefore little more than robots devoid of souls who deaths were no sadder than losing a Playstation.

These opinions hold strong today, even twenty years later. Needless to say, there was no Christmas Truce in Korea.

In the meantime, fellow members of the North Korean elite knew the time was coming to decide whether to stay with Kim or find some way to make an arrangement with the West and the South. Jang Song-Thaek, Kim’s brother in law, was the leader of the plotters and was in the process of planning to place Kim’s son, Kim Jong-nam, on the de facto throne, in hopes of getting the Chinese to lean in their favor. Unfortunately, the elder Kim discovered the plot and ghoulishly judged those who would rise against him, including his own son. Kim wanted to keep the planned coup secret to minimize any impact on his aura and so the retribution was private but merciless so that only the inner circle would know of it. Members of the North Korean government were called to a meeting in the Pyongyang Underground system where Jang was tied to a wooden post in front of them while attached to a blood transfusion machine. There, they would witness the ancient Chinese practice of ‘Lingchi’ being performed on Jang - an agonizing form of torturous death where parts of the body were slowly removed. His eyes, genitals, ears, nose and fingers were slowly removed as he begged for death - until his tongue was likewise removed, and then his teeth too. Many of the cuts were performed by his wife Kim Kyong-hui, Kim Jong Il’s sister in order to prove her loyalty, which she demonstrably did. After two hours of the most blood-curdling torture ever inflicted on a human being, a lake of blood had been transfused into him that could have been used on soldiers suffering in battle - members of the inner circle recalled the blood oozing from Jang reaching their feet. The attendees were forbidden from leaving at any stage of the torture and some literally defecated as they sat. By the end, one witness said, “Jang was covered in blood as a man who falls into the ocean is covered in water.” Kim was, however, merciful to his son, simply giving him a cup of cyanide and telling his son that if he drank it he would be buried with military honors, and if not then he would receive a method of death much worse than cyanide. Kim Jong-nam took the former, and died on December 3rd 2002 - his death was declared by ‘Pyongyang Penelope’ to be the result of ‘Personally killing five hundred American soldiers before being attacked by an American airplane personally targeting him for his valiancy’. His funeral on December 7th was not attacked by the American Air Force, who didn’t want to look callous.

The reason the South Koreans didn’t attack is because they had plans of their own.

Extract from 'Aye Spy - The Greatest Spy Missions of All Time' by Llyod Forger

In the early morning of December 8th 2002, a plane took flight from the Sea of Japan, and soon made its way over the desolate North Korean skies. As the plane was just east of Pyongyang, the three agents inside leapt from the sky, only deploying their parachutes at the last possible moment to minimize the chance of being caught. Their three names remain classified today, and are simply known in official correspondence as ‘Agents A, B and C’ All three had landed mostly without issue, but quickly had to deal with the brutal cold, pitch darkness and knowledge they were completely on their own inside the worst totalitarian experiment in human history. Discarding their parachutes, they followed the Taedong river towards Pyongyang and reached the city perimeter by dawn. The exhausted sentry was more than happy to let these three North Korean soldiers into the city in return for the surprisingly high quality cigarettes provided, and so the three South Koreans managed to break into Pyongyang.

While their main job was to confirm if Megumi was alive, getting intel on life in Pyongyang was certainly desired. They found a city that was slowly and agonizingly dying - people unable to stand at the bus stops due to hunger, destroyed buildings simply left to rot and most horrifyingly of all the sight of dead people of all ages (all ages) hanging from dead trees. Around their bodies were placards that read everything from, ‘I betrayed the Korean Revolution’ to ‘I hoarded food from our soldiers’ to one that read ‘Classmates, be happy I can subvert you no more!’. The agents did their best not to react to the corpses, seeing as no one else was. Pyongyang zoo was closed ‘until further notice’, with it later being revealed that all animals were killed and served among the North Korean elite. The three were also there to witness another symbolic American bombardment - at midday, the US Air Force bombed the Ryugyong Hotel to ashes, sending the one thousand-foot ‘Hotel of Doom’ hurtling towards the Earth. Its empty interiors never once hosting a guest in its existence, now pancaked towards the concrete below. The dust clouds from the explosion filled the streets of Pyongyang - to the surprise of the agents, most North Koreans just kept on robotically going through their routines like nothing was happening. Many had simply been taken by hopelessness for what was about to happen to them. The agents recalled being in a group patiently waiting at a traffic light to cross the road in a crowd amidst the dust cloud, silently waiting as no one even looked at each other to acknowledge what was going on. Agent B would recall in an interview they gave in 2007, “If I was walking in Kabul in Afghanistan, I couldn’t have had a bigger culture shock - and we had to pretend this was normal for us.”

Then came news that shook the three to their core - the loudspeakers in Pyongyang (another curious feature of a curious country) announced that infiltrators had landed just outside Pyongyang, something confirmed by the discovery of the parachutes that had flown out in the wind near the landing site. Already, the mission was starting to come undone, but the agents knew what they’d signed up to, and weren’t going to disgrace themselves. After all, if they were caught then whatever awaited them was worse than their cyanide pills. Eventually, after hours of walking, they finally reached the location in the Pyongyang registry where Megumi’s supposed husband was supposed to live.

“We had to be so careful,” recalled Agent A. “We knew if Megumi lived there that she could be tapped, there may have been a guard there, hell, for all we knew she’d have full Stockholm Syndrome and hand us in.” Agent A led the trio up to the front desk and asked which room Kim Young-nam lived in. All three had to continue to play stoic when they got the confirmation he was just two floors above them right now. Moving slowly while their hearts raced, the three ascended the stairs and thumped the door with the ferocity and pace that they had been trained for - an authentically North Korean one. The door opened and a middle-aged man with crumpled looking spirit answered, looking as if he half expected to be dragged outside and immediately shot. “I know it sounds strange,” recalled Agent A, “but just looking at him I knew he was a man who knew that this was not the way things were supposed to be - I knew right then that he was a South Korean. I knew we had our man.”

“Kim Young-nam?” asked Agent A, with all the scorn and contempt a North Korean soldier would have had in any similar situation.

“Y-Yes, sir?” Kim answered with the hesitation that told of a thousand beatings and terrorisations.

“Where is your wife?”

The agents didn’t need an answer - they could see at the back of the apartment the figure of two women (who while thin still looked less thin than the average resident outside), both terrified. One looked about fourteen-fifteen years old, holding onto the older woman beside her, in only the way a daughter would her mother. The older woman looked to be in her late-thirties, holding her child as only a mother would a daughter.

“I-I’m here,” the woman replied in an accent that obviously was not natively Korean.

Agent A walked over to her and, while not exposing a single emotion on their face, passed a letter. While her husband and daughter crowded around her, she opened the letter, almost falling to the ground when she saw that it was written in Japanese. It read:

“Hello Megumi,

Please do not worry or panic. Please keep very quiet. We are South Koreans and our mission is to get you and your family out of North Korea tonight. Please gather your belongings and get ready to leave at 20:00 - we will drive you and your family out of Pyongyang before being airlifted to safety. Until then do not leave your apartment, do not make any noise, and assume all other people you see apart from the three in front of you are enemies. Please do not bring too much possessions so as to minimize complications.

We understand that you may have difficulties believing us. In that case, please allow us to present a form of proof.”

Biting her lip, shaking with emotion, Megumi then had a small box - as she opened it, and saw her childhood doll that her parents had given the agents to prove they were the real thing, she flung herself into her husband’s chest to silence her uncontrollable, joyful weeping. The darkness of a quarter century began to lift before her eyes, the hopes of thousands of sleepless nights now swelling all at once within her - the dream of returning to the free world, the dream of escaping the monsters who had abused her for decades, the dream of seeing her family again.

“I take it,” Agent A said, holding his emotion in check with a stoicism that not even Marcus Aurellius could reach, “that you understand what you have to do?”

Lost in the moment and still crying into her husband’s chest, her spouse nodded in approval.

Without saying a word, the three agents left the complex and set about planning their escape. They contacted mission command in South Korea that Megumi was indeed alive and that they needed to get a plane at night to get them out of there. In order not to return to the area of maximum alert, they decided to drive to the north of Pyongyang since there would be less defensive installations. But of course, they needed a vehicle to achieve that. This was achieved when Agent C stopped a military truck in the road and distracted the driver long enough for the other two agents to kill him and dispose of the body - Agent C is often theorized to be a woman as a result. This was when they discovered there was barely any fuel in the vehicle, leading to Agent A being forced to drive to a nearby black market and end up selling the remainder of his cigarettes.

It was then that the marketeer said, “So, trying to escape?”

For the first time since they arrived, Agent A showed fear. “E-Excuse me?”

“Oh come on,” the black marketeer replied, “you can’t fool me. I can tell who you are a mile away … you’re deserters and you’re hoping to drive to the border with China and flee. You better find more cigarettes - they ain’t letting you over the border elsewise.”

Agent A gave the biggest internal sigh of relief while pretending to be even more scared than before. “S-So what if I was?”

“Nothing to me,” the black marketeer replied, “everyone knows what’s coming, just a lot of people are too afraid to make the first move. Everyone’s waiting for everyone else to start fleeing before they do too. They say Kaesong got totally destroyed - God knows what we’ll end up like. But of course, for the Korean Revolution, any man must forsake his only son.”

Agent A continued their silent glare. “Don’t let me catch you saying this stuff again, alright?”

The black marketeer laughed, “I run the Black Market here - I’m the most powerful guy in Pyongyang from ‘Ol’ Glasses’ himself. The suits need me to find their shit until the day we achieve Communism, and it looks like that’s going to be a long fucking time.”

Agent A couldn’t resist smiling.

“It’s lucky that you’re funny.”

“I’m born in North Korea,” he replied with sudden coldness. “No one’s lucky.”

Coldness and distance between them, it seemed like the best way to end the conversation. Truck filled with all the fuel they could get, they parked just outside the apartment at 20:00, not wanting to wait an extra second longer than they had to to avoid arousing suspicion. Agent C stayed behind the wheel while Agents A and B went to Megumi’s family’s apartment. In order to avoid suspicion, the three were carried out in blankets and told to lay low on the back of the cargo truck. Each member of the family were put in wooden crates originally for ammunition that were barely large enough to fit humans in and told that for the love of God, that had to keep quiet until they opened the crates for them again. At roughly 20:15, the truck drove off towards the north, Agents C and A in the front while Agent B stayed in the back to communicate with mission command to organize a rendezvous.

Ten minutes later, as darkness intensified amidst the blackout in Pyongyang, the truck encountered a checkpoint with at least five guards. Roughly twenty-five metres from the checkpoint, they were ordered to stop in the darkness while a sentry came over to interrogate them, pointing a torch accusingly in their faces.

“The guy at the checkpoint was a lot more questioning than we expected,” remembered Agent A. “Asked us our names, business, regiments. We told him we were transferring ammo, and he was pretty suspicious that we were going north to do that instead of south. That’s when he asked us to show him our ammo crates. That’s when we thought we were done.”

The sentry stormed to the back of the truck, where he would have surely found a third agent that supposedly was not there and a mere three suspiciously large crates on the floor. Instead, he didn’t see any of that, as the moment he darted his head inside, Agent B sent a knife up his chin to his brain, killing him instantly with B catching the torch just in time to stop a suspicious clatter. The other two agents looked in bewilderment from the front of the car, quickly looking back to the checkpoint to see if any had noticed. Fortunately, they seemed to be indifferent or distracted with their own concerns.

Quickly trying to find some way of solving the situation, Agent B let the torch down, grabbed a series of rubber bands from his pocket and with admirable dexterity (while one-handed and in the dark) was able to get the torch tied to the North Korean sentry’s wrist as if he was still holding it. After a terrifying minute, Agent B pulled the sentry over to the side of the truck, almost puppeteering the sentry and shining his light at the checkpoint. Once the light shone at the checkpoint and he got the other soldiers’ attention, he flung the arm into the air as if to say ‘Pass’. Obliquely obeying the command, the four at the checkpoint cleared the way ahead. B tried to drag the body into the truck but the blood over the knife caused his grip to fall, leaving the body to drop outside to the ground, torch still shining.

“C had just got the truck going again,” recalled A, “real slow and careful style, but just as we were going past, I could see one of the sentry’s point behind to where the body was dropped. B saw the torches start shining on the body, so he just yelled out, ‘MOVE!’. C suddenly slammed the pedal and the truck took off. All of a sudden this bullet from behind comes slicing right through the middle of the truck, smashing the windscreen, and we suddenly realised we were in deep shit.”

North Pyongyang went on high alert as Agent C finally saw no use in not using their night vision headset to navigate the blacked out streets while Agent B yelled the route from the back. Skidding round the corners at full speed, there were times the whole truck nearly tipped over. Then, as they were getting closer to the city limits, the street-lights suddenly turned on. While this may have seemed good, it was anything but - it meant they were looking for them and now they could. From here, there and every direction, the squeals of bullets pattered the truck. Agent A did all they could by shooting from the passenger seat with their pistol to keep covering fire. Finally, they saw the checkpoint on the city limits, which they knew they weren’t going to talk their way through. Instead, C threw their foot down on the accelerator while the truck was inundated with rifle fire. With both C and A crouching down, they crashed through the guard-barrier, almost crumpling the front of the truck that still continued to go regardless. Both C and A had received flesh-wounds but knew they had to keep going, since only death awaited them back in Pyongyang.

Flying up the empty roads of the highway for another number of miles, they could see North Korean vehicles behind them giving chase. They could see they were being closed in on and that the lumbering, injured truck would almost certainly eventually be overtaken. A had assumed this was the end and made peace with death, thinking that when he heard the sound of a great explosion that this was their time to leave Earth. Instead, they realized that the explosion came from far behind them - the vehicles that had been sent to chase them down were no longer there, only a fireball. While the vehicles may have been quicker than the truck, they weren’t quicker than a missile fired from an American F-16 - especially when they’d helped turn the lights back on to illuminate their positions.

C turned the car off-road and into the North Korean wilderness. A and C were now both visibly weak from blood loss and beginning to hallucinate. But finally, just as the engine groaned from lack of petrol and the truck could barely continue moving, the sounds of rotor blades filled the air. Shining down from above was the light of the Black Hawk Helicopter. Too weak to continue, A recalled that they passed out not long after, convinced that the knowledge they had reached safety finally gave them permission to rest.

“You never remember just before you sleep,” recalled A, “but I can still remember sweet darkness taking over me in those last moments, the pain in my wounds fading, the knowledge that if I died here that I could be proud of myself.”

Some hours later, A would wake up on the hospital deck of the USS Ronald Reagan [2] in the Yellow Sea. He would first see C lying beside them on a nearby hospital bed, asleep but in stable condition. Then he would see B arrive at the door, with a face as if to say, “I can’t believe we actually pulled it off.” And then, one by one, came the family they had rescued followed after. One by one, they took their turn to smile and thank everyone beyond measure. Megumi was also smiling because they told her that her parents were still alive … and they had waited for her.

They’d made it.

Extract from ‘Date with Destiny: The War that brought Korea and Japan Together’ by Kaori Makimura

Twenty-five years. Twenty-five years torn from the family she loved so much. Twenty-five years of crying into her pillow at night, of total isolation, of hopeless existence. And now, for the first time in a quarter of a century, she stood on ground that was not her prison. She and her family stood on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan. Kim Jong-Il could never get to her again. He could never hurt her again. He could never hurt the people she loved again. Soon he was going to receive what he deserved for his lifetime of evil - soon there would be no more prisons, no more tyranny in Korea. And soon, most beautifully, most unbelievably of all, Megumi Yokota was about to see her family back home again.

Though there had been a desire to keep the story quiet for a while, people talked. And by the time Megumi landed in Tokyo, already awestruck by the sight of Twenty-First century Japan, both she and her family were more astonished still looking down on the airport below. The airport was surrounded by tens of thousands of people from all over Japan. Some were old enough to remember the first reports in the 1970s, others had only heard about it that morning. The only thing in common was that they wanted to show their love and appreciation for her and her family. Megumi had worried that she had been forgotten in Japan, that they had moved on to more pressing things and maybe didn’t even realize that she had been taken by North Korea. She could not have been farther from the truth - she learned of the debates they had about her in the Diet, the campaigns from Hokkaido to Okinawa to try and find her, and most of all, how every day and every night that she had been gone her parents had done everything they could to get her back.

She bit her lip and held on - she had promised herself to save her tears when she met her parents again. At the same time, even the Television anchors of the notoriously stoic country covering the plane’s landing in Narita failed to contain themselves, with the NHK studio breaking into spontaneous cheering when the plane landed on the runway.

Her parents were waiting nowhere else but the Imperial Palace itself - not exactly a place that the suburban Nagoya family ever expected to end up inside. Emperor Akihito, as familiar and heartbroken by the case as any other Japanese citizen who had read about Megumi, welcomed her and her family to Japan and told Megumi. Megumi’s husband, Kim, said that he wanted Megumi to share the moment with her parents by herself, and thus both he and their daughter stepped back to allow Megumi to move to the room with her parents in it, alone. As she opened the door, as she saw the two elderly figures in front of her, the same but withered faces from old memories that now came roaring back along with all the love she ever felt for them for the love they gave her, as the two elderly parents saw the same dimples in her cheeks, flash in her eyes and felt the connection between parent and child that never fails and never fades, the curse was lifted. Forgetting formality, forgetting age, forgetting that they had ever lived for anything else, the three rushed together in ultimate embrace. Tears that had been held back for decades released themselves as souls released from bondage. They were free - not just Megumi, but her parents too, free from worry and fear for their daughter. In a world of such sadness, they had finally got their happy ending.

“Megumi,” her father said, “I may be too old to lift you over my shoulders now, so please make do with just this hug.”

“Megumi,” said her mother, “I may have gotten weaker, but I never stopped looking. We never stopped trying. We never gave up.”

“I knew,” said Megumi. “I always knew.”

Soon Megumi’s siblings would join, as would Megumi’s family she had in captivity - all part of one extended, multinational family. It would be another day before she would give a press conference - 50% of all televisions in Japan would watch the conference, as would 20% of South Korea. Despite fears that Kim would retaliate against the other Japanese kidnapping victims, it seems the only people who suffered were members of the North Korean intelligence services, who were purged with Stalinist effectiveness. While the kidnapping victims were put under extra surveillance, no one was planning to escape until the South Koreans and UN were on top of them anyway. The popularization of Megumi’s story in the West also dealt a blow to those who wanted a negotiated settlement in Korea and was considered a PR win by the Bush Administration.

Megumi’s rescue would prove the stuff of international reconciliation between Japan and South Korea. Japanese and South Korean agencies had worked together to save a joint Korean-Japanese family in the most talked about rescue operations of all time since Entebbe. Polls subsequent to the operation showed that 90% of Japanese had a positive opinion of South Korea and that 80% of South Koreans thought the same of Japan. The cooperation between Japanese and Korean intelligence agencies would even create the ‘Nikkan’ genre of crime films, revolving around free-wheeling South Korean cops being forced to work with conservative, by-the-book Japanese cops to track international crime syndicates (often Chinese Triads) and making unlikely friendships. It would also catapult the Japanese politician most associated with the North Korean abduction cases, Shinzo Abe, to the top of the Japanese political food-chain. Given Abe’s support for an assertive Japanese foreign policy and his links to the Unification Church, whose hand was already beginning to be felt in the occupied zones of North Korea, his ascension would prove pivotal for the future of East Asia. Abe would contact President Lee and begin to hash out a formal reconciliation between Japan and South Korea which would resolve the Liancourt Rocks and Comfort Women disputes in return for endorsement of Abe’s plans to revoke Article 9 and restore Japan’s military status, all of which would be formalized in 2004. Respecting the wishes of the three South Korean agents who participated in the operation, their names remain anonymous.

Megumi would have to learn a lot about Japan while she was interned. About the walkman, internet, Dragon Ball and a whole host of things that had spread all around the world except the prison that held her. After a thorough intelligence review with South Korean, Japanese and American officials to get any intelligence on the Kim regime they could, Megumi then went to visit her husband’s family in South Korea to a similar reception as in Japan. Megumi would eventually live near her parents in Nagoya with her husband and daughter. Not too long later Megumi would herself become a grandmother. She continues to spend her time promoting Korean-Japanese relations and speaking to universities about her experiences in North Korea to this day. North Korea can never hurt her, her family, or anyone else ever again.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megumi_Yokota. For the purpose of this story, I am accepting the position of Megumi’s family, the Japanese government and overwhelming majority of Japanese that North Korea faked her death, which there is substantial albeit not conclusive evidence for.

[2] The Reagan was rushed to completion following the sinking of the Lincoln - this is it’s first combat operation
Holy Canoli reading this for the first time and the Megumi section actually got me teary eyed. Phenomenal writing.
In terms of historiography, how would the historians view the 1979 Iranian Revolution and First Korean War through thorough re-evaluation?

What about the status of Iraq and the HDI of Vostokslavia, Korea, and Iran?
@Sorairo, what became of the Freedom Movement of Iran after the War on Terror? Might as well ask as while a revived Tudeh Party is the main leftist party and the Rastakhiz Party’s revival fills the right-wing niche, the FMI hasn’t been mentioned.

It got folded into the Reseurrectionists.

In terms of historiography, how would the historians view the 1979 Iranian Revolution and First Korean War through thorough re-evaluation?

What about the status of Iraq and the HDI of Vostokslavia, Korea, and Iran?

I don't think it would change much - the former as a disaster for Iran that replaced a bad situation with a worse one, and the latter as a Kim getting overconfident.

Vostokoslavia is economically what a Russia that never experienced the sanctions after 2014 would look like. South Korea is like Taiwan, not as glitzy as modern Seoul, while South-Korean run North Korea is on the same level as South Korea was in the 90s. The Chinese occupied portion is essentially a military base. Iran's HDI is like modern Poland.
Generally historiographic study is not based on "ok, let's throw away everything that has been done so far, as lies with zero value. Then we start judging everything again according to arbitrary criteria currently established in light of recent geopolitical events" .

So I doubt there will be a case where all of the historiography done so far is fundamentally rewritten, even if there will be some adjustment to include the TTL events.
Generally historiographic study is not based on "ok, let's throw away everything that has been done so far, as lies with zero value. Then we start judging everything again according to arbitrary criteria currently established in light of recent geopolitical events" .

So I doubt there will be a case where all of the historiography done so far is fundamentally rewritten, even if there will be some adjustment to include the TTL events.
What post is this responding to? 🤨
@Sorairo Will South Korea eventually reunify the non-Chinese occupied North Korea?

Depends on whether China implodes in the future. Just to clarify, the parts occupied by South Korea are fully integrated into South Korea, but the locals are only slowly being integrated, much like Russians in Latvia have an 'inbetween' citizenship that can be upgraded to full in return for sufficient Latvian proficiency.

And speaking of which, considering the shitty nature of Korean-Chinese relations, has Korea given the Central Tibetan Administration unofficial recognition (in the same sense Ukraine has recognized Chechnya as "temporarily occupied by Russia")?

Yes, alongside 'East Turkestan' and the 'Hong Kong interim government'.
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@Sorairo Will South Korea eventually reunify the non-Chinese occupied North Korea?
Think it already has reincorporated everything up to the Chinese-held regions - thanks to the Unification Church…

Talk about a cursed version of some things we’d like to see IRL. Democratic Iran…but only after a terrible war. Reunited Korea…under the Moonies. A more defence-minded Europe…because an even nastier version of the Soviet Union emerged.
Talk about a cursed version of some things we’d like to see IRL. Democratic Iran…but only after a terrible war. Reunited Korea…under the Moonies. A more defence-minded Europe…because an even nastier version of the Soviet Union emerged.
This is basically "Monkey's Paw: The Alternate History", now you mentioned it.