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South Korean man arrested after claiming to be 'North Korean spy'

South Korean man arrested after claiming to be 'North Korean spy'
A South Korean man in his 50s was arrested this week after a prank call incident, according to local police. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

March 5 (UPI) -- A South Korean man who made a prank call to local police has been arrested after falsely claiming he was a North Korean spy "heading home."

The Seoul Jungnang District police said Friday they are investigating the 58-year-old defendant after charging him of issuing a "false report," a misdemeanor under South Korea's Minor Offenses Act, SBS and EDaily reported.

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The man made the call from his car in Yangpyeong County, Gyeonggi Province, about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. While driving in the area, the man allegedly said that he was a "North Korean spy" who crossed into the South last year but was now "heading home" to the North.

Police said the man then drove from Namyangju City to Seoul, where he was arrested near his residence in the Jungnang District.

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South Korean authorities said law enforcement officers in Seoul and outlying Gyeonggi Province were mobilized to track the man as he moved about from region to region.

A police source told SBS the man has acknowledged his crimes, but investigations are ongoing.

South Korea takes seriously most claims of affiliations with North Korea despite diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang in recent years.

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During the Cold War and immediately after, North Korea used spies to infiltrate the South. Captured North Korean spies have previously said agents who failed to complete their mission in the South pay the ultimate price -- family execution.

South Korea continues to enforce the National Security Act, which imposes penalties for speech and acts that show support for the North Korean regime. The law was amended in recent years to prevent arbitrary arrests.

Groups like Amnesty International have criticized the South's law. The group said the National Security Act is a tool to "harass and arbitrarily prosecute individuals and civil society organizations."

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Police did not cite the law Friday in connection with the arrest.

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