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North Korea Returns a Defector to the South

North Korea returned a South Korean man on Thursday who had defected to the North, in the first such repatriation since October.

The 52-year-old man, identified as Kim Sang-geun by the North, was handed over to the South Korean authorities at Panmunjom, a village that straddles the border between the Koreas.

North Korea said last week that it would send Mr. Kim back to the South, saying he entered the North through an unidentified third country to escape his economic difficulties in the capitalist South. It said Mr. Kim asked for help in bringing his family from the South so they could live in the North together. But North Korea said it instead persuaded him to return home.

Back in the South, Mr. Kim will probably face criminal charges of violating the National Security Law, which bans South Koreans from visiting the North without government permission.

Over the past two decades, 27,000 North Koreans have defected to the South, fleeing hunger and political repression in their homeland. But South Koreans have also fled to the North on occasion, defecting through North Korean diplomatic missions abroad or making their way across the border, often to escape legal, financial or marital troubles. In 2009, a South Korean civilian sneaked through the heavily armed border to defect. Last year, South Korean soldiers shot and killed a man trying to cross a river into the North.

North Korea occasionally uses defectors and detainees for propaganda. In May, the North sentenced a South Korean missionary to hard labor for life. It is also holding three Americans, including one missionary and two who visited the country on tourist visas, on charges of committing hostile acts against the North Korean government.

Read More:North Korea Returns a Defector to the South – NYTimes.com.

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