Bangkok: Thirty-five years after she vanished from Macau, relatives of a Thai woman believed to have been snatched by North Korean agents hope that a landmark UN investigation will help to finally bring her home.
Anocha Panjoy was 23 when she left her apartment in May 1978 in the former Portuguese colony, where she was working at the time, telling a friend she was going to a beauty parlour. She never returned.
Her disappearance was a mystery for almost three decades until former US army deserter Charles Jenkins revealed that a Thai woman called Anocha had been his neighbour in Pyongyang.
"When Anocha disappeared, I thought that she was killed in Macau and her body was dumped in the sea," her nephew Bangjong Panjoy said.
"The day we heard she was in North Korea, the whole family cried as they thought Anocha would come home. We cried and cried wanting her to come back," he told.
Anocha`s father died just months before her whereabouts was revealed.
When Bangjong visited Japan to meet Jenkins, the American`s Japanese wife Hitomi Soga -- another former abductee -- immediately recognised Anocha in the family`s photos, he said.
According to Jenkins, who spent four decades in North Korea until he was allowed to leave in 2004, Anocha told him she was forced into a boat and taken against her will to the secretive communist state.
Bangjong believes that Anocha was probably kidnapped by North Korea to be the wife of a foreign defector, or to teach the Thai language to North Korean spies.
The family recently submitted its evidence about her abduction to the UN Commission of Enquiry into Human Rights in North Korea, which was set up in March under the chairmanship of former Australian judge Michael Kirby.
The commission is the first UN expert panel to officially examine Pyongyang`s human rights record, by collecting witness testimony in Japan, Thailand, Britain and the United States from North Korean defectors and other victims.