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View more articles by Chad O'Carroll
Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
Yesterday unification activist Ro Su-hui walked across the DMZ in sensational scenes which saw him handcuffed, roped up and arrested upon his first steps across the border. Moments earlier he had been given a hero’s send-off in a highly orchestrated move by Pyongyang which can only be described, for now, as a clear but unnecessary propaganda victory. With Ro now likely to face lengthy detention for his unauthorized visit, his arrest and case will continue to serve North Korean propaganda purposes in the months to come. But the arrest once again underscores the controversial nature of South Korea’s National Security Law and raises questions about why North was facilitated to engineer such a significant propaganda event.
When Ro left Pyongyang yesterday morning he walked beneath the Monument to the Three Charters for National Reunification, surrounded by thousands of pro-unification DPRK citizens. The start of North Korea’s latest propaganda coup took place just a week after a rare news conference covering the surprising news of defector Pak Jong Suk’s return to North Korea. As you can guess, KCNA milked the departure of Ro back to South Korea for its full worth. Confident of the reception he would get as soon as he stepped across the DMZ, North Korea dispatched its media and a significant number of local citizens down to the northern side of the Panmunjon facility to witness his arrest as he returned back to his native South Korea.