Clear the suspicion

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Clear the suspicion

The facts about the forced repatriation of two North Korean fishermen are being revealed one after another. The lead-up to their return on November 7, 2019 is shocking. The Moon Jae-in administration not only sent them back to North Korea illegally but also repeatedly lied about the episode. A South Korean government has never returned North Korean defectors home after they expressed an intention to defect. North Korea reportedly executed the two fishermen for treason.

Our military authorities give a warning to North Korean vessels if they cross the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea and East Sea. But the Moon administration set a guideline ordering the military to send them back instead of capturing them. Even if a spy ship is disguised as a fishing boat, our navy must send it back. As a result, Gen. Park Han-ki, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was investigated by the Blue House after he ordered the Navy to capture the boat on the East Sea.

After North Koreans defect to South Korea, they are supposed to undergo a joint interrogation by security authorities, including the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the military and the Ministry of Unification. But the NIS hurriedly ended the interrogation of the two defectors. Suh Hoon, the NIS chief at the time, was accused of abuse of power by the Yoon Suk-yeol administration.

As our Constitution defines North Korean defectors as South Korean citizens, the authorities cannot send them back. But Chung Eui-yong, former National Security Advisor, repatriated them because they were “felons who committed a heinous crime” in the North. He must have been aware of a Supreme Court ruling in 1996 against deportation of North Korean defectors.

Even if defectors are suspected of committing a grave crime, they should be punished by our law. If they are proven innocent, they become South Korean citizens after going through a reeducation program. If North Korean defectors are not allowed to live in South Korea on the other hand, they can raise a complaint with the unification minister within 90 days. But the two defectors were sent back home in just six days without exercising such rights.

Appearing to the National Assembly, then unification minister Kim Yeon-chul blamed a “lack of sincerity to defect” for their repatriation. But the photos released by the ministry vividly show their vehement resistance to the repatriation. Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, said he was shocked by the Moon administration’s collusion with North Korea over the repatriation.

The case constitutes a clear violation of our Constitution and a shameful act against humanity. The Yoon Suk-yeol administration must get to the bottom of the suspicions.
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