South Korean Defectors Repatriated

October 28, 2013 by  

South Korean Defectors Repatriated, Six South Koreans repatriated from North Korea over the weekend said that they had fled to the North through China in recent years to escape bankruptcies and family troubles in the South and in search of a better life in the North, the South Korean news media and government officials said on Monday.

North Korea handed over the six men, aged 27 to 67, at the border on Friday. It was an unusual gesture from the North, which had in the past welcomed defectors from the South and used them for propaganda. Some analysts saw the six men’s repatriations as a North Korean overture to ease tensions with the South.

After returning home, all six men told investigators that they had entered the North through its border with China between 2009 and 2012, said a South Korean government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity until the investigation was over. He also said that the remains of a woman returned on Friday from the North were of the wife of one of the six men.

The South Korean news media quoted anonymous government sources as saying that one of the six had posted pro-North Korean messages on the Internet while in the South. When the North’s main party paper Rodong Sinmun quoted one of his online postings, he reportedly decided to defect to the North, hoping that he would be treated well there.

Another man hoped for treatment for kidney stones in the North, the Yonhap news agency and other South Korean news media said. But all six ended up going through between 14 and 45 months of interrogations by the North Korean authorities and living in virtual house arrest in guesthouses, the reports said.

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