North Korean woman was kidnapped from South, report says

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  Dec. 18, 2017 at 10:40 AM
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Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A North Korean woman who made television appearances in the South then reappeared in a North Korea propaganda video may have been kidnapped, sources say.

Jeon Hye-sung, who went by the name Lim Ji-hyun when she appeared on South Korean television, may have received a phone call from North Korea state security prior to her disappearance, South Korean television network SBS reported Monday.

Jeon, who stated on North Korean footage she returned to be reunited with her family, may have returned to North Korea in a state of emotional turmoil.

Jeon's South Korean landlord told SBS her rooms were cluttered with clothes, but did not include any valuables, which she may have taken with her before she left the country.

A defector who first met Jeon at Hanawon, the South Korean resettlement center, around 2014, told SBS on the condition of anonymity North Korea made the phone call around late 2016.

Sometimes North Korean state security agents posing as relatives tell defectors they are "already in China" and need to be picked up and taken into safety, prompting some defectors to heed the call and leave the country, according to the report.

One defector who spoke anonymously to SBS said the call was ignored and later confirmed with family in North they did not make the call.

Yang Moo-jin, a South Korean analyst at the University of North Korean Studies, told SBS Kim Jong Un is "securing the superiority" of his system, and tightening control over North Korean refugees.

North Korean women are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses as they escape the regime, South Korean newsmagazine Monthly Chosun reported.

Ra Jeong-eok, the director of the Center for Cultural Unification Studies, said sexual violence, human trafficking and employment fraud plague the lives of North Korean women in China.

Ra's study was based on interviews with 100 China-based North Korean women that took place from September 2016 to May 2017.

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