CityNews – May 12th, at Chiang Mai City Hall’s office building, Tomoharu Ebihara, president of the rescue group for victims kidnapped by North Korean people, released a statement about Sukam Panjoy who recently passed away.
Sukam is the older brother of Anocha Panjoy, Sankamphaeng resident, whom it is believed was kidnapped by the North Korean Government while on holiday to Macao 37 years ago.
Anocha left her home town to go to Bangkok to work in 1973. Later, she and her two Thai friends went to work in Macao in 1978.
Her Thai friends say that, on May 22, 1978, Anocha went to a beauty salon in Macao and then disappeared. Macao police investigated her disappearance but with no leads.
Anocha was designated a ‘missing person’, who disappeared together with two Macao women on July 2, 1978, without a trace.
Until today no one knows for sure where Anocha is and for many decades her relatives believed her to have died.
Anocha was born on July 12, 1954. After she finished school at Grade 4, she moved from Chiang Mai to work in Bangkok, then Macao, and disappeared in 1978.
According to rumours and leads as well as passages from a book written by Charles Roberts Jenkins http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/09/the-defector/309436/, who published a memoir about his time living in North Korea, following his defection from the United States army, Anocha was alive and well and living in North Korea.
Jenkins whose wife, Soka, was also kidnapped, met Anocha in his neighbourhood. When this news broke in 2005 it was a Thai media frenzy since Anocha is the only known Thai woman to have been kidnapped, supposedly, by North Korea.
According to Japan, there are 17 victims of kidnapping still remaining in North Korea while other reports suggests the number has reached 100.
In 2002 Japan’s Prime Minister Koizumi went to North Korean and successfully brought five people home. That was the first time the North Korean Government admitted to kidnapping.
As a result, Japan became interested in Anocha’s story and believes that there are people from a total of 12 countries who have been kidnapped and are currently residing in North Korea.
Anocha’s brother, Sukam, 69, has been at the forefront of the fight to find out what happened to her and has kept her name alive in the media all these years, calling press conferences, giving interviews, and tenaciously not letting his sister go. Sadly, on May 1st, he passed away from leukemia. Before passing away he asked his son, Banchong Panjoy to promise to continue the search for his aunt and to bring her home.
Banchong will continue his father’s work in cooperating with rescue groups for victims kidnapped by North Korea, and NGOs who have also been helping to find Anocha for over 10 years.
According to Banchong, before 2005, his father and Surachai Chongrak, who was the chief of Sankamphaeng District Office at the time, went to join a seminar with Tomoharu Ebihara in Japan. Two years later, his father was sick. He then took over to help find his aunt.
He won’t give up and asked for help from those involved in Chiang Mai to search for his aunt.