Jeon Hye-sung, who went by the name Lim Ji-hyun when she appeared on South Korean television shows, had left behind her “property and assets.” File Photo screenshot of Uriminzokkiri/YouTube
July 18 (UPI) -- A North Korean woman who resettled in the South may have been abducted instead of voluntarily returning to her country of origin, a South Korean politician said Tuesday.
Jeon Hye-sung, who went by the name Lim Ji-hyun when she appeared on South Korean television shows, had left behind her "property and assets" prior to her sudden disappearance, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported.
Cheong Yang-seog, a representative of South Korea's center-right Bareun Party, said Jeon, 25, might have been the "target of a North Korea abduction."
"Experts familiar with North Korea are cautiously suggesting Ms. [Jeon Hye-sung] was the target of a North Korea abduction," Cheong said. "If it was a 'voluntary abduction' one would normally take care of her assets and property, but [Jeon} left them behind."
Pyongyang has frequently condemned defectors, and may have begun to notice Jeon after she appeared on a South Korean television show where she showed off her singing skills and discussed the culture of North Korea.
After disappearing from the South, Jeon appeared in a North Korean propaganda video released Saturday, where she condemned South Korean society and claimed she was forced to "slander and speak ill" of the North, CNN reported.
According to Cheong, however, Jeon may have disappeared in April when she was visiting China for "shopping and business" on a South Korean passport.
"She claims of a voluntary return, but many experts deem it a kidnapping," Cheong said, urging the Moon Jae-in administration to take a more active approach to the incident.
Jeon left North Korea in January 2014 and enjoyed a moderate amount of fame as Lim Ji-hyun.
Prior to her disappearance, her South Korean fans threw her a birthday party. Her television appearances may have helped her fare better than other defectors, who often struggle economically in the capitalist South.
South Korean news network YTN reported 25 defectors have made similar television appearances in the North, and five of the individuals attempted to escape the North for the second time.