awesome - Student Who Went Missing 14 Years Ago Turns Up In A Place So Crazy It Only Raises More Questions

    Though traveling abroad has become easier and safer as technology brings the world together, there are still some risks involved. But this American family never thought that a trip to China would end up in a mystery that, to this day, remains unresolved.
    Fox News
    Roy and Kathleen experienced every parent’s worst nightmare the day they heard their son had gone missing. But this was not a disappearance like any other. Their search for their son led them on a path they would never have imagined — one that implicates some of the most powerful governments in the world.
    David Sneddon was a 24-year-old student at Brigham Young University. As a mormon, he regularly went on missionary trips around the world. But David’s voyages weren’t always religiously-motivated. He loved to travel, get to know other cultures, and discovering nature. He enjoyed hiking and was fluent in Korean. That’s how, in 2004, his journeys took him to Asia.
    Having just finished a mission in South Korea, David decided to fly to China for some sightseeing. “He said he was going to take a look around some touristy spots in southeast China before he came back,” remembers his father. He emailed his parents often, telling them about his adventures. That’s how they knew he was heading to Yunnan province. But nobody could have predicted what awaited him there.

    Tdxiang/Wikimedia Commons
    One of the most popular tourist spots in Yunnan is the Tiger Leaping Gorge, a scenic canyon on the Jinsha River. Visitors can hike on a trail that runs the length of the gorge, and there is a robust tourist industry that surrounds it. David’s parents knew that’s where he was heading — and it’s the last they heard of their son.

    Facebook/Bring David Sneddon Home
    Four days after his trip to Yunnan, David was supposed to meet his brother in Seoul. But he never showed up. Kathleen contacted the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where one official dismissively told her, “you can’t lose an American in China.” Days later, they received a call from the Chinese government, bearing terrible news: David was dead. Or was he?
    China’s official story was that David had fallen to his death while hiking the Tiger Leaping Gorge. However, his body had not been recovered. The Sneddons immediately doubted that explanation. “There’s no evidence of that—zero,” said Kathleen. The family had many questions, and they intended to find answers. Even if that meant retracing David’s footsteps.
    A month after the disappearance, Roy and his sons Michael and James traveled to Yunnan to look for David or any evidence of his whereabouts. As they hiked the Tiger Leaping Gorge themselves, they found the trail was not a dangerous one. “It was nothing difficult,” said Roy. “It was no big deal compared to the areas of Wyoming we had backpacked through as a family.” And that wasn’t the only clue they encountered.
    The Sneddons met a tour guide who claimed he had walked the full trail with David, meaning he hadn’t fallen mid-hike as the Chinese government claimed. They also talked to the owner of a hostel at the end of the trail who said David had stayed there. The family’s search took them to Shangri-La, where a cafe owner remembered having seen David. But that’s when the trail went cold.

    Stuart Johnson/Deseret News
    Unable to find further information about David’s whereabouts beyond Shangri-La, the Sneddons had no choice but to leave the search to the U.S. State Department. The department, however, accepted the official story of David’s death. Roy and Kathleen were out of options, but they never lost hope. Then, seven years later, they received an extraordinary call.

    The Guardian
    The man who called the Sneddons was Nicholas Craft, an attorney and an expert on North Korea. Craft told the family he believed David had been kidnapped by the North Korean government, given that his disappearance followed the pattern of other North Korean abductions of foreign nationals. Initially, the couple was very skeptical. “I just thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard,” said Kathleen. But Craft wasn’t the only one with this theory.

    Committee For Human Rights in North Korea
    Melanie Kirkpatrick was another North Korea expert who agreed with Craft’s assessment. “We know that North Korean operatives were active in that region around the same time David was there—with China’s full permission,” she stated. In fact, she had some information from a government official that could mean David was indeed taken to North Korea.

    In 2013, Japanese minister of state Keiji Furuya told Kirkpatrick that “it is most probable that a U.S. national has been abducted to North Korea.” Then, in 2016, a South Korean organization that specializes in North Korean abductions said David had been kidnapped with the purpose of teaching English to Kim Jong-Un and other government officials. There was also a man who claimed to have even more specific details.

    The Washington Post
    Choi Sung-Yong, the head of Seoul’s Abductees’ Family Union, had information that asserted David had changed his name to Yoon Bong Soo, was now married to a woman named Kim Eun Hye, and had two children. But none of the intel was independently corroborated, so the American government never took action. Even when its own politicians wanted it to do so.

    Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune
    In June 2017, Senator Mike Lee and Representative Chris Stewart, from Utah, sent a letter to President Trump urging him to look into North Korea’s involvement in Sneddon’s disappearance. “Research from regional experts has uncovered disturbing parallels between David’s disappearance and the known operational patterns of kidnappings of citizens from many countries,” it read. So far, the efforts haven’t paid off.
    The State Department won’t take any action until verifiable information exists. Still, the Sneddons continue their search, finding comfort in the thought that David might be helping an oppressed population. “If my son has a part in helping North Koreans have a normal life in any way, I would just be thrilled,” said Kathleen. “If he, by being there, can bring attention to how North Korea is treating its people, we would be most pleased.”

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