A South Korean has been jailed for a foiled attempt to defect to North Korea, in an unusual reversal of the prevailing trend.
The man in his 50s, surnamed Oh, visited the North’s consulate in the northeastern China city of Shenyang last October to seek asylum, saying he wanted to campaign for unification of the peninsula, according to a court record.
North Korean diplomats turned Oh back and urged him to campaign at home.
He then travelled in China’s border areas considering ways to sneak into the North before returning home, where he was arrested.
Seoul’s Western District Court last week sentenced him to a year in jail for breaching the National Security Act, which bans unauthorised contacts with the North.
According to the court record, the former college caretaker had held a grudge against society after being fined by a Seoul court for beating colleagues in 2007.
More than 21,700 North Koreans have fled the other way and arrived in South Korea since the 1950-1953 war.
But in October 2009 a South Korean pig farmer apparently fleeing arrest for assault cut his way through a barbed-wire border fence and defected to North Korea.