Although few news stories emanating from North Korea can be described as beyond belief, a Daily Mail story published on Thursday claims American David Sneddon, missing from China since 2004, was kidnapped by North Korean agents and brought to Pyongyang to become a tutor to then-heir Kim Jong-un.
A second story suggesting Sneddon was arrested by Chinese agents for complicity in helping North Korean refugees flee to China has also recently circulated.
Fluent in Korean, Sneddon, then a student enrolled at Brigham Young University in 2004 and who had worked as a missionary with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was hiking at the time of his disappearance.
According to the original story which appeared in Yahoo! Japan, Choi Sung-yong, head of South Korea’s Abductees’ Family Union, claims Sneddon was kidnapped, brought to live in Pyongyang to tutor English to the younger Kim and has since married and fathered two children.
The official line from Beijing was Sneddon fell to his death during a hiking excursion at the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan Province, China. Fueling speculation there may be a hint of truth to the recent story Sneddon is alive and living in Pyongyang, Chinese police have stated Sneddon’s body was never found.
Although no word has been heard from Sneddon since his “disappearance” and no photographic evidence exists to confirm his presence in North Korea. Eyewitness accounts detailing sightings of the Utah native have surfaced, but have not been corroborated.
Sneddon’s family was overwhelmed with the news reports:
“We initially thought that China had picked David up thinking he was involved in the underground railroad, because a former companion of his had been teaching a North Korean family in Beijing,” Sneddon’s father, Roy, told the Daily Mail.
Despite renewed optimism, the State Department remained unconvinced the reports are accurate.
Spokesman John Kirby stated in a Department briefing that “the embassy in Beijing . . . has been in regular, ongoing contact with the local authorities since David Sneddon was reported missing . . . We continue to closely monitor this matter and we continue to raise it with Chinese authorities.”
[Daily Mail] [Yahoo Japan] [helpfinddavid.com] [Photo courtesy anygator.com]