North Korea

Seoul indicts North Korean defector for being a 'double agent'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 2:31pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 3:49pm

Prosecutors in Seoul on Wednesday indicted a two-time North Korean defector who holds South Korean citizenship on charges of breaking a national security law by illegally visiting Pyongyang, South Korean media reported.

Kim Kwang-ho, 37, had originally defected from North Korea in August 2009 with his wife-to-be Kim Ok-sil and arrived in South Korea that November, said South Korea’s Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.

The two obtained South Korean citizenship and had a daughter in South Korea. A few years after Kim settled in the South, he was sued because he was unable to pay one million won (HK$7,151) to a broker who helped him defect from North Korea, prosecutors in Seoul said.

Kim did not receive the document requesting him to appear at court and lost the lawsuit, which led to a provisional seizure of his public rental housing deposit of 13 million won (HK$92,971), prosecutors explained.

As life in South Korea became difficult, Kim decided to return to North Korea with his family and was able to go back in November 2012 with the help of the North Korean consulate in the Chinese city of Shenyang, South Korean media reported.

In January this year, Kim appeared in a press conference aired by North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, calling South Korea “a dangerous world where fraud, trickery and machinations prevail”.

While Kim was in Pyongyang, he told authorities about the interrogation methods, locations and organisational structure of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), claimed prosecutors in Seoul. He also allegedly provided information about the programmes, locations and identities of workers at Hanawon, a resettlement centre for North Korean refugees.

Kim, according to South Korean prosecutors, failed to re-adjust to life in North Korea and defected again in late June with his family and his wife’s brother and sister. China’s public security officials caught them in Yanji in July.

Chinese authorities - initially unsure whether to treat the Kim family as North Koreans or South Koreans - returned them to South Korea early last month. Kim’s brother- and sister-in-law, however, were reportedly repatriated to North Korea because they did not have South Korean citizenship.

NIS arrested and detained Kim upon his arrival at the country’s main airport in Incheon.

South Korea’s national security law, in effect since 1948, bans citizens from visiting North Korea without authorisation, contacting North Koreans and doing activities that support or praise Pyongyang.