Members of a support group and of a Japanese organization defending the interests of Japanese citizens gone missing in North Korea met the relatives of a Romanian women believed to have been kidnapped by the Pyongyang regime in 1978 on Monday.

According to Teruaki Masumoto, secretary general of the said organization, the two parties will collaborate to clarify what happened in the case of Romanian Doina Bumbea.

Hitomi Soga, a Japanese woman who had been kidnapped in 1978 and returned home in 2002, and her husband Charles Jenkins, a US deserter, have said they shared an apartment in North Korea with a woman of Romanian origin.

According to the two, Doina was also married to a US deserter who settled in the country.

According to Romanian newspaper Evenimentul Zilei, Doina Bumbea disappeared in 1978 after she was offered an opportunity to expose her artworks at a Japanese gallery. The Romanian painter never returned home as she could no longer leave North Korea, where she was forced to teach foreign languages to Pyongyang secret agents.

As Evenimentul Zilei also reported, Doina Bumbea is thought to have died of cancer in 1997.