The South Korean government on Friday afternoon confirmed reports that a defector called Ko Hyon-chol’s was arrested in North Korea.
Seoul demanded Pyongyang immediate release Ko, and other South Korean citizens currently detained in North Korea.
“We strongly condemn that North Korea has arrested our citizen and is using the arrest for its state propaganda,” the Ministry of Unification (MoU) told NK News on Friday.
“Seoul demands the immediate release and return of our citizens, including Ko Hyon-chol, Kim Jeong-wook (arrested in October 2013), Kim Kook-kie (October 2014) and Choi Chun-kil (December 2012).”
Ko’s arrest in North Korea was covered by a report from AFP, which said “Ko Hyon-Chol, 53, ‘confessed’ to attempting to kidnap two North Korean girl orphans and take them to the South.”
During a press conference held in Pyongyang attended by foreign media and diplomats, Ko said he was introduced to agents from South Korean’s spy agency in December 2015.
According to the report, Ko was told in May to “arrange the kidnapping of orphans from North Korea” with the National Intelligence Service (NIS) promising to paying $10,000 for each abductee. He subsequently crossed the river in to North Korea on May 27, but was soon arrested.
The news comes after a mass-defection of North Korean restaurant workers to South Korea in April.
But North Korea called the event a “mass-abduction,” blaming the NIS. State media claimed the defectors were on hunger strike and were demanding an immediate return to North Korea.
Seoul firmly denied Pyongyang’s claims related to the case, and reiterated that the North Korean workers defected of their own their free will, with an official from the MoU’s press office telling NK News the North’s claims are “not even worth the discussion.”
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons
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