Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Episode 161 – Best of Frenemies, Part 7


This week, we discuss Japan’s relationship with the modern day Hermit Kingdom, and to explain North Korean policy and how those policies effect Japan. It’s gonna be a long ride into the web of madness that is the world’s only communist monarchy, so grab your Kim Il-sung pins and strap in!


Listen to the episode here.


Cummings, Bruce. Korea’s Place in the Sun.

Cummings, Bruce. North Korea: Another Country.

Japan’s National Security Strategy, Published 2012. Though mostly concerned with China there is also a section on North Korea.



Much of Kim Il-sung’s legitimacy depended upon his credentials as an anti-Japanese resistance fighter. This propaganda poster reads “Long Live the Hero of Anti-Japanese Resistance Kim Il-Sung.”


Kim Il-sung’s wife heroically defending him from Japanese soldiers, despite the fact that the two of them met in the Soviet Union after Kim was no longer actively fighting the Japanese.


Kim Jong-il meets with Japanese PM Koizumi Junichiro, 2002. During this meeting, Kim copped to the kidnapping of Japanese civilians by North Korea.


The parents of Yokota Megumi display photos of her at a press conference. Megumi was taken in 1977; according to the North Korean government, she died in captivity.


Five kidnapped Japanese citizens and their children were allowed to visit Japan in 2004, though the DPRK required they be sent back after a time. The Japanese government waited for the abductees to arrive in Tokyo before telling the North Koreans they would never send them back.


Estimated ranges for North Korean missiles. It’s fairly obvious why this would worry the Japanese government, particularly in concert with the North’s nuclear program.


Episode 160 – Best of Frenemies, Part 6


Episode 162 – Best of Frenemies, Part 8


  1. I used to live in Niigata prefecture just after the time when these kidnapping occurred. At that time it was all speculation.

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