PANMUNJOM, South Korea, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- North Korea repatriated a defector from South Korea Thursday, a man who allegedly crossed the border to escape economic problems in the south.
Kim Sang-geun, 52, was handed over to South Korean authorities at the border village of Panmunjom. The North Korean government announced last week he would be returned, claiming he illegally entered the totalitarian country through a third, unidentified country, and sought help in having his family join him.
Defectors from South Korea are few, but they attempt to cross the border or declare their interest in defecting at diplomatic missions, generally to escape financial, legal or marital problems. At least 27,000 people, in the past 20 years, have defected from North Korea to South Korea, typically citing starvation or government repression as their motive. Kim will likely be charged with violating South Korea's National Security Law, which forbids visiting North Korea without government approval. In October, North Korea returned six men it claimed entered the country illegally; each was arrested by South Korea and charged with breaking the security law.
North Korea still has three U.S. citizens in custody on charges of committing hostile acts against the North Korean government.