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South Korean arrested for hunting defectors

Apr 13,2010
A South Korean man was arrested for allegedly hunting down North Korean defectors in China and forcibly sending them back to North Korea under the instruction of a female North Korean agent, prosecutors said yesterday.

The man is also accused of collecting information for Pyongyang on South Koreans who help North Koreans escape and on South Korean intelligence officials in China. The man is being questioned by the National Intelligence Service.

The 55-year-old man, surnamed Kim, was recruited in 1999 by a female agent from North Korea’s National Security Agency, who offered him high-quality narcotics in China, the prosecution investigating the case said. After being pursued by prosecutors for illegally selling narcotics in Korea, Kim fled to China and has been living there illegally since the late 1990s.

In February 2000, Kim visited Pyongyang for 15 days of spy training and returned to China. He specialized in tracking North Korean defectors and sending them home and collecting and reporting on the South’s agents.

He received $10,000 in cash and two kilograms (4.4 pounds) of narcotics. Kim sold the narcotics to fund his spying and for personal expenses.

Prosecutors said Kim is accused of kidnapping a 50-year-old North Korean male defector in China and sending him back to the North in 2006. He is also suspected of two failed attempts to kidnap North Korean defectors.

Prosecutors said Kim has admitted that he collected information about Korean intelligence activities and illegally visited North Korea. But he denied hunting down defectors in China. Prosecutors said they obtained testimony from a person whom Kim failed to kidnap.

Kim recently arrived in South Korea after an accomplice was arrested by Chinese police.


By Kim Mi-ju, Lee Chul-jae [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]



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