South Korea probes celebrity defector's return to North

Seoul police announce investigation into whether woman known in South Korea as Lim Ji-hyun was abducted

South Korea probes celebrity defector's return to North

World Bulletin / News Desk

Police on Wednesday said they were investigating the return of a prominent North Korean defector to her homeland.

Pyongyang’s online propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri posted an interview on Sunday featuring an interview with Jeon Hye-seong, who appeared to be the same woman known in the South as Lim Ji-hyun.

Until recently a celebrity with a South Korean fan club, now she was highly critical of capitalist life in the country she apparently abandoned last month.

The former North Korean escapee had become famous for her television appearances in the South after defecting in January 2014 and showed no sign of discontent when thanking fans for a birthday party in April.

However, while tens of thousands of defectors from the North have been welcomed by Seoul since the 1950-53 Korean War, life in highly competitive South Korea can be difficult for outsiders from poorer countries. Only dozens of North Koreans are known to have made the return journey in recent years.

Those who stay despite challenges in the South often cite fear of Pyongyang’s repressive regime.

Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said they were looking into how Jeon managed to get back to the North in June and if she was coerced in any way, according to the South’s Yonhap News Agency. Officers are reportedly examining her telephone records and financial transactions.

South Korean citizens need special permission to travel to North Korea and vice versa but Seoul has a policy of accepting defectors from the North after a screening and resettlement process.

Last Mod: 19 Temmuz 2017, 17:02
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