Stalemate on 50th Day of Detention of S.Korean

      May 19, 2009 07:32

      A South Korean working in the Kaesong Industrial Complex has now been held incommunicado for 50 days by North Korea. The North has consistently refused South Korean authorities access to the man, identified as Yoo (44), who is apparently being held on charges of sedition.

      "We've heard indirectly that [Yoo] is in an area near Kaesong and has no particular problem as far as his health or safety is concerned," Unification Ministry vice spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo said Monday.

      North Korean officials reportedly recently produced a set of keys to facilities at the industrial park which Yoo had carried just 30 minutes after South Korean officials asked for an item proving that he is safe.

      South Korean authorities believe Yoo, who works for Hyundai Asan, is being held at a guesthouse in downtown Kaesong outside the industrial park.

      The length of his detention raises fears that he will be put on trial as the North has threatened to do with two American journalists. The North decided to indict the two women about 60 days after they were arrested at the border with China.

      It is still unclear why Yoo was arrested. The North insists his detention is not a matter that warrants inter-Korean talks. But under an inter-Korean agreement, the North is required to inform the South of any violation by a South Korean citizen and in the worst case expel the person.

      A Cheong Wa Dae official said Seoul is not setting Yoo's release as precondition for an inter-Korean meeting at Kaesong, "but unless the issue is solved, there will be a problem with the continued operation of the industrial park."

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