A North Korean defector was on Friday sentenced by the Seoul High Court to two-and-a-half years in jail for sending 130 tons of rice to her homeland as a “loyalty gift”.
It is an open secret North Korean defectors living in the South send small amounts of money to their relatives in the North but this case also involved an extraordinary amount of money sent to the North’s state security agency.
Upholding a lower court decision, the High Court rejected the accused’s claims she sent the rice to ensure the welfare of her son, who was left behind in the North when she defected to the South via China in 2011.
The woman, 50, has since made a small fortune by operating a massage parlour in the South. She sent 130 tons of rice in two instalments to coincide with the April 15 birthday of the North’s founding father Kim Il-sung in 2016 and the January 8 birthday of the current leader Kim Jong-un, via an intermediary associated with the North’s security agency. She also sent US$71,000 to the broker to send an additional 70 tons of rice to the impoverished state.
The court accepted prosecutors’ charges she sent the rice to prove her loyalty to Pyongyang as she sought to return to the North to reunite with her son, who has failed in his attempts to follow his mother in defecting to the South. Prosecutors charged her with providing the North with illegal aid in breach of the strict National Security Law.
[South China Morning Post]