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NK Detention of S. Korean Worker Enters 74th Day

Posted June. 12, 2009 07:28,   


South Korea yesterday made no progress in the release of a Hyundai Asan Corp. employee detained by North Korea for the 74th day.

Both Koreas spoke on the detainee in working-level talks at the inter-Korean business park in Kaesong, but the North just listened to the complaints raised by the South.

North Korean officials simply repeated, “This does not fall under our jurisdiction.”

Seoul failed to determine where he is being held, and Pyongyang denied him his basic human rights.

On April 24, the 39th day of their detention, the North announced its prosecution of two American journalists arrested March 17 near the border between North Korea and China near the Duman River. On June 4, the 80th day of their detention, it began the trial of the journalists and announced their sentence four days later.

Pyongyang, however, has said nothing about the South Korean detainee except a statement May 1, the 33rd day of his detention, that it would conduct an in-depth investigation. If he is put on trial, the North is required to consult with the South under a 2004 bilateral agreement, but has said nothing yet.

Moreover, North Korea is apparently taking advantage of the case to raise its offensive against South Korea despite failing to state the charges against him or present evidence.

The North said March 30, “He tried to corrupt and deviate [sic] a female worker at the Kaesong industrial park and encouraged her to flee our country,” but released no details on evidence or circumstances.

It said May 1, “He criticized our regime with malicious intent, infringed on our republic’s sovereignty, and committed a serious violation of related law.”

The North also aroused suspicion by saying May 15 that he wore a Hyundai Asan cap.

The two detained Americans have been allowed to meet the Swedish ambassador to Pyongyang three times, and write letters and phone their families in the United States. The Hyundai Asan employee, however, has had no chance to meet South Korean officials, not to mention his family.

North Korean officials said in the middle of last month that he was doing well. South Korea sent underwear to him and the North often sent back the clothes he wore, but this was stopped May 15.