Destiny: The Secret Operations of the Yodogo- Exiles

Ko-ji Takazawa, edited by Patricia G. Steinhoff. Univ. of Hawai‘i, $24.99 trade paper (472p) ISBN 978-0-8248-7279-3
Investigative journalist Takazawa recounts the story of the nine Japanese leftist students who in 1970 hijacked a Japanese airliner to North Korea. The book, however, goes beyond the hijacking of the airliner to focus on the subsequent history of Yodogo- group—a name, applied by the media, based on the nickname of the hijacked airliner. Takazawa describes how the group, originally part of the Japanese New Left, was systematically brainwashed to be ardent followers of Juche, the official ideology of North Korea as established in 1972 by Kim Il Sung. Over the subsequent decades, the Yodogo- group became tools of the North Korean government and was involved in international espionage, propaganda, and criminal activity that included kidnapping and drug trafficking. The writing is novelistic rather than academic, though it can be difficult to read and follow for someone not familiar with Japanese political history (Steinhoff does provide thorough footnotes). Additionally, according to Steinhoff’s intro, Takazawa’s sources sometimes lied to him and in many places speculation replaces facts where details remain unknown. Nevertheless, Takazawa’s detailed research, which included numerous trips to North Korea and interviews with Yodogo- group members, makes this important reading for those who want to understand radical revolutionary movements, particularly in East Asia. Illus. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2017
Release date: 07/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 472 pages - 978-0-8248-7278-6
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