South Korea said it cannot repatriate a North Korean defector who wishes to return home. Kim Ryen-hi, 45, cannot return to North Korea because Seoul’s current legal framework does not allow defectors to leave South Korea once they are naturalized, South Korean outlet Newsis reported.
An unidentified Unification Ministry official said that upon her arrival in South Korea, Kim repeatedly confirmed her desire to defect. “We don’t know what her reasons are, but after her defection we did confirm her will” to resettle in the South, the official said.
Kim first came to South Korea in September 2011. During a press conference on Aug. 3, Kim said a broker she met in China tricked her into traveling to South Korea. The broker lured her with moneymaking opportunities in the South, and she said she belatedly learned that she could not return to China, after her defection was approved.
Meanwhile, North Korean propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri stated that “South Korean authorities” should return all “abductees” and “forcibly interned” North Koreans.