When David Sneddon disappeared while hiking in China, his family feared he had been lost to an outdoor accident.

They never imagined they would receive reports from South Korean intelligence that David may have been kidnapped by North Korean commandos and was being forced to teach English.

While that may sound outlandish, North Korea’s brutal dictatorship has done it before.

Sneddon vanished August 14, 2004 while hiking the Tiger Leaping Gorge near the Jinsha River in China’s Yunnan Province.  After a search of the area failed to find him, or his body, authorities presumed him dead.

His family, however, refused to believe he died.

But that was the official story for 12 years, until last September when a South Korean organization that supports families of those kidnapped by North Korea reported Sneddon had been seen alive, and living in the socialist dictatorship.

Choi Sung-yong, of Abductees’ Family Union, says a source found Sneddon inside North Korea, who kidnapped him and is now forcing him to teach English.

That may be difficult to prove, but the circumstantial evidence is strong.

For one, North Korea runs a robust kidnapping program.  As an isolated socialist dictatorship, the country is short on talent.

So they go out and “get” talent.

Since the end of the Korean War 64 years ago, North Korea has abducted nearly 4,000 South Koreans alone.  About 480 are still held in captivity.

People who can teach English are a priority.

Sneddon, a student at Brigham Young University, taught English to South Koreans during his Mormon missionary service.

And North Korea is willing to go outside the Korean peninsula to kidnap, as proven by one of the most bizarre stories to ever come out of the bizarre autocracy.

Before he succeeded his father to rule North Korea, Kim Jong-il was in charge of the nation’s film industry.

It sucked.

The country had little in the way of acting or directing talent and most films were bland retellings of propaganda stories or old folklore.

Kim himself admitted North Korean films were terrible because the actors and crew knew they would be paid by the government no matter what they produced, while South Korean films were of better quality because they had to make money.

So Kim had a plan to get some talent.

In 1978, the famed South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee was offered a film role by whom she believed to be a Chinese businessman.

She arrived in Hong Kong and got into a car, which she thought would take her to a meeting with the film producer.  Instead, she was taken to a waiting boat, and sedated.

Choi awoke to find herself locked in a room aboard a freighter, with a framed portrait of Kim Jong-il hung on the wall.  She immediately knew what had happened.

When the boat arrived in North Korea, she was greeted at the dock by Kim Jong-il himself, who told her of her new role, as North Korea’s leading actress.

Kim spent four years “re-educating” Choi, taking her to North Korean cultural events, while also asking her for expertise and advice on filmmaking.

She worried about her husband, famous South Korean director Shin Sang-ok, whom she assumed had no idea what had happened to her.

In 1983, four years into her captivity, Kim concluded she was finally ready to make films. He invited her to a dinner party for North Korean officials – where she was stunned to see her husband.

Shin, concerned about his wife’s disappearance, had traveled to Hong Kong to search for her.

There, he too was kidnapped, just six months after her.  Choi’s abduction was part of a plan to lure Shin into a trap.

He had been in North Korea the entire time, also kept in isolation for “re-education.”

Reunited, the pair would spend the next three years making seven films for the dictator, including a well-received North Korean take on “Godzilla.”

Kim rewarded their loyalty by granting their request to represent North Korea at a film festival in Vienna.

There, they made their escape and sought asylum in the U.S. Embassy.

They would live under U.S. protection in Reston, Virginia for the next two years, unsure if South Korean officials would believe the incredible story of how they had been kidnapped and forced to make films.

Is David Sneddon alive and living in North Korea, where Kim Jong-un is forcing him to teach English?

As we read here, crazier things have happened.