About the Author
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
A U.S. citizen who earlier this week attempted to cross into North Korea will be deported for violating the National Security Act, South Korean police confirmed to NK News on Wednesday.
The 58-year-old American, who is yet to be publicly named, was arrested on Monday crossing the Civilian Control Line (CCL) below the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Yeoncheon-gun, Gyeonggi Province.
The arrestee was handed over to police after the South Korean military authorities conducted an interrogation, and was subsequently convicted of violating the South’s National Security Act.
“We have decided to deport him and extradite him to the immigration office today in consultation with the prosecution,” an official at the provincial police agency told NK News, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official, however, declined to confirm the departure date of the arrestee, saying the Korea Immigration Service has a “separate schedule and procedure.”
“I can’t share the details of the investigation, but it’s true that he violated the law,” the official said. “We took the measures in accordance with the relevant law and procedures.”
Article 6 of the National Security Act proscribes imprisonment of ten years for individuals who have “infiltrated from, or escaped to an area under the control of an anti-government organization.”
The authorities said the American believed that they could contribute to negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on Wednesday that the U.S. citizen had developed a plan to defect to the North through research online, and wasn’t aware crossing the CCL was illegal – reports that police declined to confirm.
Officials from the U.S. embassy in Seoul, including a consular representative, have visited the arrestee in detention, according to police.
“Owing to privacy concerns, the Embassy has no further information that it can provide at this time on this case,” an official at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul told NK News on Wednesday.
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs Staffs (JCS) on Tuesday said the U.S. citizen had stayed in Seoul and Munsan near the inter-Korean border, having entered the ROK on November 3.
The American planned to enter the DPRK by crossing the ceasefire line “with the judgment that he could contribute to the situation in the North,” Suh Wook, Chief Director of Operations at the JCS, said on Tuesday.
His statements during joint questioning, however, were “inconsistent,” Suh added.
Featured Image: Republic of Korea Armed Forces
Edited by Oliver Hotham