"Serial" defector steals trawler, sails back to North Korea

SEOUL Thu Apr 4, 2013 6:36am IST

Related Topics

SEOUL (Reuters) - A "serial" North Korean defector has given a substantial U.S. and South Korean military presence the slip, stealing a 9-tonne fishing trawler to return to the impoverished North, the Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday.

South Korea's Yonhap described the 28-year-old crab fisherman, identified only as Lee, as a "serial" defector who had made what appeared to be his fourth dash to the North.

It gave no explanation how he had managed to defect so many times, let alone how he had been able to avoid imprisonment in North Korea, which has ratcheted up tension on the peninsula with increasingly strident rhetoric in recent weeks.

South Korean military officials said the boat commandeered by Lee had been spotted too late to be intercepted.

"The fishing boat had managed to enter a blind spot on our radar," Yonhap quoted an unidentified South Korean military official as saying.

He evaded detection despite being based on the island of Yeongpyeong, a hotspot on the border between the North and South that was shelled by North Korea in 2010. He had been living in the South since 2007, Yonhap said.

The United States has deployed state-of-the-art military assets to the region in response to Pyongyang's threats to launch a nuclear strike and stage all-out war.

There are more than 20,000 North Korean defectors living in South Korea. Some have returned home to a hero's welcome and subsequently denounced the South.

Pyongyang parades returnees in an attempt to demonstrate the superiority of its social system, despite external reports from bodies like the United Nations that show many of its 24 million people face regular food shortages. (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Paul Tait)

FILED UNDER:

World Wrap

Reuters Showcase

Stake Sale

Stake Sale

Strong demand for Coal India boosts privatisation drive.  Full Article 

Pharma Deal

Pharma Deal

Sun Pharmaceutical wins U.S. approval to buy Ranbaxy  Full Article 

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet board approves up to $243 mln share sale plan  Full Article 

AirAsia Jet Crash

AirAsia Jet Crash

AirAsia captain left seat before jet lost control - sources  Full Article 

India Art Fair

India Art Fair

Art fair turns India's capital into art hub.  Full Article 

Romney Opts Out

Romney Opts Out

Republican Romney opts out of 2016 run for president.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Rahasya" is an ode to Agatha Christie.  Full Article 

Safety Concerns

Safety Concerns

Aviation leaders seek new safety mandate after deadly 2014.  Full Article 

Movie Review: Hawaizaada

Movie Review: Hawaizaada

Movie Review: Hawaizaada  Full Article | Related Story 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage