On August 14, 2004, Brigham Young University student David Sneddon, then 24, vanished while hiking in Yunnan, China. While no body was ever recovered, police had believed Sneddon died accidentally.
A new report issued by South Korea states that not only is Sneddon alive, but that North Korean agents abducted him and smuggled the young man back to their homeland, where he was forced to teach English to young dictator Kim Jong Un. The report also claims that Sneddon, now 36, is presently a married father of two living in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. Agents targeted Sneddon, the report maintains, because he was fluent in Korean. He was even last seen leaving a Korean restaurant.
The U.S. Department of State is taking this new information seriously and announced on Wednesday that it will conduct an “active search.” Sneddon’s parents, Roy and Kathleen, never believed David was dead. They’ve worked tirelessly to locate him, traveling to Asia repeatedly, and running a website and Facebook page dedicated to the pursuit. “We knew in our heart he was alive,” Kathleen said, “so we had to keep fighting.”
The Sneddons even rallied Utah Representatives Christ Stewart and Mike Lee to push Congress last February for official action. “The evidence indicates that there are still a lot of unanswered questions about David’s disappearance,” Stewart said. “David’s family deserves answers to those questions, and until we find those answers I will continue urging the state department to pursue all possible explanations for David’s disappearance.”
North Korea has long been accused of kidnapping foreign citizens, often for the victims to serve members of the ruling class. The abductions are said to occur most frequently in South Korea and Japan, but also from far away as Austria, Germany, and Norway. Should the David Sneddon case prove authentic, China can also be added to that unfortunate list.
Roy Sneddon is of course focused on his son, but addressed the larger issue, as well: “One young man from Utah is a sad and woeful story. But when you look at the total number,” he says, “Pray for the people of North Korea that their lives will change.”
Main photo: Facebook
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