Photos by HelpFindDavid.com and Stuart Johnson for Deseret News
Earlier this year, we reported on the mysterious and troubling case of David Sneddon. David, a returned missionary and BYU student, had been studying in China during the summer of 2004 when he suddenly disappeared. The official reports from the Chinese government claimed David likely fell off the trail he was on when he was last seen and drowned. After extensive personal research by the family and the lack of evidence to support this theory, the Sneddon’s concluded, along with experts in North Korean policy, that David had been abducted by the North Korean government.
In February 2016, Utah congressman Chris Steward and Senator Mike Lee introduced a resolution in Congress urging the State Department to investigate the situation. Now, Deseret News is reporting a new development that could bring the Sneddon’s one step closer to closure.
Yahoo News Japan released a report on Wednesday claiming David is alive. The report, featuring an interview with Choi Sung-yong, head of South Korea’s Abductees’ Family Union, states David is living in the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang, and teaches English to children. He supposedly has a wife and two children.
The Sneddon family believes it was David’s fluency in Korean that made him such a desirable target. The report confirms the theory, saying David was even a teacher to the current dictatorial leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.
Kathleen Sneddon, David’s mother, wasn’t surprised at all by the report and said, “We just knew in our hearts that he was alive, so we had to keep fighting.” The Sneddons have maintained a website for a number of years with information on his case.
The most joyous development for the Sneddon’s is that the U.S. State Department declared on Wednesday that they are formally launching an active search for him in North Korea. Though the family realizes there is still a hard road ahead, they are grateful for the progress. They also expressed their sorrow for the people their son has likely taught for the past 12 years: “Pray for the people of North Korea that their lives will change.”
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.