Activist 'Tried to Organize High-Level Defection from N.Korea'

      July 23, 2012 12:59

      Activist Kim Young-hwan arrives at Incheon International Airport on Friday after being detained for almost four months in China. /Yonhap

      A South Korean activist who returned home on Friday after 114 days in Chinese detention apparently attempted to set up the defection of a senior North Korean official. Kim Young-hwan will hold a press conference on Tuesday to reveal the circumstances surrounding his arrest in China.

      A diplomatic source in Seoul on Sunday said that he was told that Kim tried to get a key North Korean official to defect but failed. This official is "someone who starkly represents the reality of human rights abuses of North Korean refuges, and his presence is a thorny issue in China," the source added.

      A senior South Korean official said, "China demanded that Seoul prevent South Korean activist groups from setting up organized escapes from North Korea in return for releasing Kim."

      But the South Korean government reportedly said it cannot intervene in every single activity of non-governmental organizations.

      China also suspects that South Korean intelligence agents were involved with Kim's activities. This may be the reason why China accused Kim of "endangering national security," a term China often uses in espionage cases.

      Some in the government believe that Kim attempted to unite scattered cells of resistance across North Korea.

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