Sept. 1 (UPI) -- A North Korean defector of a relatively privileged class background may have returned to her country of origin, and her acquaintances in the South are concerned she may be in danger.
South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported Saturday, local time, the 60-year-old defector left for China in July.
South Korea police told the Chosun the woman may have left for China in order to reenter the North, and that she was penalized in 2015 for attempting to return.
Speculation is rising among defectors the woman may be used as a propaganda tool and could make a rehearsed appearance in a North Korean video.
In July, a former defector who enjoyed moderate amounts of fame through television, condemned South Korean society and claimed she was forced to "slander and speak ill" of the North.
The 60-year-old defector is a member of North Korea's political elite, and her daughter in the North is a physician, according to the report.
Her life became complicated after her younger sister and her sister's family was caught practicing Christianity.
The group was sentenced to a North Korean prison camp, and the defector was placed under special surveillance.
The defector left for China in 2012, and was advised to go to the South instead of returning to North Hamgyong Province because an acquaintance said her house was being searched.
Unwilling to face a possible sentence at a prison camp, the woman made her way to the South, but wished to see her daughter.
The desire to be reunited with family may have compelled her to make the dangerous trip back home, according to defectors who knew her.
Defectors who try to re-enter North Korea face up to seven years' imprisonment for violating South Korea's national security law.