Cho Myong-chol, a North Korean defector who became a Saenuri Party lawmaker, on Wednesday dismissed threats by North Korea to "hunt him down."
"The North Korean regime, which claims to pursue reforms, is contradicting itself by threatening to terrorize its own people," Cho told reporters at the National Assembly.
The North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland in a statement on Tuesday singled out as targets for attack Cho as well as South Korean activist Kim Young-hwan, who was detained in China for 114 days for helping defectors, Kim Sung-min of Free North Korea Radio, and Park Sang-hak of activist group Fighters for Free North Korea.
Cho warned people against being fooled by moves by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that hint at possible reforms. "North Korea is not trying to reform but merely misleading its people again and trying to make the existing system more efficient," Cho said. "This is just what [former leader] Kim Jong-il used to do."
Fighting back tears, Cho added, "The regime leaders who created the world's most oppressive country, one that is economically hopeless and the antithesis of democracy, should be apologizing to their people but are instead threatening to kill defectors who are critical of them. We cannot accept such brazen behavior."
He also took aim at sympathizers with the North Korean regime in South Korea, saying their attempts to divide the South are actually fueling the North's belligerent behavior.
Park of Fighters for Free North Korea said he no longer cares about such threats. "I've had about a dozen similar threats from North Korea since October 2008 and have gotten used to them," he said.
In September last year, the National Intelligence Service arrested a North Korean spy posing as a defector who had come to South Korea on a mission to assassinate Park with a poison needle.
"I thought for a moment that Kim Jong-un might be different because he was educated abroad, but I can see that nothing has changed," Park said.
Along with Kim Sung-min, Park plans to send balloons with anti-communist leaflets to North Korea on Aug. 15. "North Korea's threats are designed to stifle activists working to help North Korean defectors," Kim said. "But they only make me work harder. If I slowed down because of their threats, then that would mean that they are succeeding. I have no intention of letting that happen."