North Korean defector convicted of fraud for bribing officials

The man was arrested after he bribed North Korea authorities with $1,728 in cash in return for the release of a North Korean national.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Nov. 30, 2015 at 11:39 AM
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SEOUL, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- A North Korean defector in the South who returned to North Korea several times to work as a broker was acquitted of violating Seoul's National Security Law, but was found guilty of swindling large sums of money from North Koreans seeking to leave their country.

The 44-year-old man, identified only by his surname Kim, was charged with fraud and crossing into North Korea after resettlement in the South. He faces six months in prison followed by two years of probation, Yonhap reported.

Suwon District Judge Lee Ui-seok said Monday the defendant was not found guilty of violating South Korea's anti-Pyongyang National Security Law, because Kim's actions "did not endanger the free democratic order" of South Korea."

The South Korean judge also said it is unlikely the defendant was disillusioned with his life in the South, or that he re-entered North Korea to collaborate with the regime.

Kim, however, was found guilty of fraud but was given a relatively light sentence for several reasons, according to Lee.

"It was a crime to accept anything of value from people seeking to defect. But the victims in the case have requested leniency for the defendant, the defendant has no other criminal record, and he feels remorse for his actions," the judge said.

South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported Kim had fled North Korea in August 2008, whereafter he returned to North Korea five times between June and October 2011.

Kim was arrested after he bribed North Korea authorities with $1,728 in cash, in return for the release of a North Korean national. Kim also collected $8,295 from two North Korean defectors after he agreed to return to the South with the children they left behind.

Some broker activity has been cited as responsible for the sex trafficking of North Korean women who are subsequently sold to men in China.

Radio Free Asia reported on Saturday the practice of sex trafficking is growing in North Korea, and organized crime rings have been formed to traffic North Korean women on a "large scale."

A source told RFA that it is not difficult to find women "luring guests" on the streets of Pyongyang.

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