In the News – MoU Claims Park Return Coerced
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification claims to have uncovered evidence supporting the idea that North Korean officials threatened Park In Sook, the woman who “re-defected” to North Korea on May 25th after living in South Korea for six years.
A ministry official suggested yesterday that Park’s return was due to external pressure, saying, “An investigation conducted by a related organization found the North somehow threatened Park about the safety of her family members in the North.”
Another defector living in Seoul reportedly provided further evidence supporting the story, allegedly testifying that Park had “been agonizing” over threatening calls she received from the country beginning in April.
According to Park’s statement after returning to Pyongyang, she was lured into defection in 2006 with the promise that she would be reunited wither father, but she later regretted coming to the South, saying, “I am an ingrate who had betrayed my motherland to seek a better life while others devoted themselves to building a thriving nation, tightening their belts.”
Despite her apparent conviction, speculation at the time suggested that her statement might have been coerced, and that the North Korean government was using her to discourage other citizens from attempting to defect.
According to the Ministry of Unification, the government plans measures to protect vulnerable North Korean defectors residing in the South from similar events, although it has not said how this would be achieved.