Gov't Warns Against N.Korean Provocations

  • By Lee Yong-soo, Kim Myong-song

    August 22, 2016 12:07

    The Unification Ministry in an emergency briefing Sunday warned of an impending provocation from North Korea after the defection of a senior diplomat.

    The Ministry did not say why it decided to call an emergency briefing at the weekend or what kind of provocation it expects.

    "North Korea intended to hold a rally on Liberation Day on Aug. 15 to criticize joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises and divide public sentiment in the South," the ministry said in a press release handed out to reporters. "But it abruptly abandoned the plan."

    The ministry said the defection of Thae Yong-ho, the No. 2 man at the North Korean Embassy in London, "may be causing tremors in the North as well as hurting the country's image abroad."

    It is therefore likely that, on past form, the regime will carry out some kind of stunt for internal purposes and to vent its rage.

    "There is a considerable chance that the North may implement some sort of provocation to help rally its people and consolidate the regime's hold on power," the ministry said.

    A ministry official said the regime also sent agents abroad to target South Korean nationals after claiming that the South kidnapped a group of North Korean restaurant staff in China in April.

    The ministry in a separate handout said in the early years of leader Kim Jong-un's rule, North Koreans defected primarily to escape tough living conditions, but more recently they are fleeing due to disillusionment with his leadership.

    From 2010 to 2013, 40.1 percent of North Korean defectors cited "hunger and economic difficulties" as the prime reason for their defection, while 39.6 percent cited "discontent and disillusionment" with the regime and "yearning for freedom" as the main reason. But from 2014 to 2016, only 12.1 percent cited poverty but 64.9 percent disaffection.

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