중앙데일리

North Korean defects ― three times

July 07,2007
Cigarettes, a used bicycle and cash. Those were some of the things a North Korean defector used to bribe border guards as he went back and forth three times between his homeland and South Korea, the National Intelligence Service said yesterday.
The last time, the man brought North Korean neighbors with him. They couldn’t keep their story straight, and that led to him getting caught, the agency said.
The 30-year-old North Korean defector, who was not identified, was arrested yesterday on charges of having the secret visits, which violated the National Security Law. The arrest carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.
The intelligence agency said the man, who has experience selling Chinese goods on North Korea’s black market, bribed guards at the border between China and North Korea.
The man escaped North Korea in September 2003 by crossing into China through the Tumen River. He met with his mother and an older sister, who had earlier defected to China, and the three all came to South Korea via Mongolia.
The South Korean government gave the man an apartment and 30 million won ($33,000) to assist his settlement after he finished the government’s training program in February 2004.
He worked at motels in Seoul but was disappointed with his life, the intelligence agency said.
The man also missed his wife, whom he left in the North, the agency said. In October 2004, the man visited China with a tourist visa and smuggled himself back to the North by crossing the Tumen River again.
To re-enter, the man bribed North Korean security officials with money, cigarettes and a used bicycle, the intelligence service said.
For eight months, the man lived with his wife, again working as a trader. He worried, however, about his mother and sister in the South.
Bribing the North Korean border guards again, he escaped to China in June 2005 and then returned to the South. While he was in the South, his wife gave birth to a daughter. In December 2005, the man went to the North again through China via the same route and met his newborn, the intelligence service said.
In September 2006, he went back to the South. This time, he guided his neighbors. The secret visits were uncovered, however, during questioning at the National Intelligence Service because the neighbors didn’t coordinate their story.


By Ser Myo-ja Staff Writer [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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