In an apparent conciliatory gesture, North Korea said Friday it will send back a South Korean man who entered the North illegally.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Kim Sang-geun entered North Korea through a third country after having unspecified difficulties living in the South. It said Kim asked to live in North Korea and bring his family members from the South but the country decided to repatriate him next Thursday.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said in a statement it has informed North Korea that it will take custody of Kim.
Kim’s repatriation suggests that impoverished North Korea is still interested in improving ties with South Korea, said Chang Yong Seok, a senior researcher at Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies.
In recent months North Korea has proposed a set of measures it says would reduce tension, but South Korea has rebuffed the overture, arguing that North Korea must first take steps toward nuclear disarmament. Outside analysts say the North is pushing for better ties with South Korea to help attract foreign investment and aid to revive its economy.