SEOUL, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A South Korean pastor has been sentenced to five years in jail for an unauthorized trip to North Korea, officials said.
Prosecutors in Seoul had sought a 10-year sentence for the Rev. Han Sang-ryol, a pro-unification activist, Yonhap reported.
During his stay in North Korea, the 61-year-old pastor gave a series of speeches praising the North and denouncing the Lee Myung-bak administration in South Korea, the news agency said.
Han was arrested last summer as he crossed the Korean border back into the South on foot.
South Korea's National Security Law requires citizens to get prior authorization before traveling to the North. It also forbids residents from participating in any acts that sympathize with the North Korean government.
"The defendant went to the North without the Unification Ministry's approval, and he would have been aware that his activities will be extensively reported by the North's media for the regime's propaganda," the Seoul Central District Court said in its ruling. "As a matter of fact, he did support the North's regime and made remarks praising juche [self-reliance] principle and seongun [miilitary first] politics."
The same court sentenced Han's 54-year-old brother, Han Choong-mok, to a 1 1/2-year jail term, suspended for three years, for anti-American activities and for sympathizing with North Korea, the report said.