A South Korean man repatriated by North Korea after an apparent defection attempt has been formally arrested for breaking the South’s strict national security law, police said Monday.
Kim Sang-Gun, 52, was charged with violating the law’s ban on illegal or unauthorised travel to the North, the police in Kim’s home province of Gyeonggi said in a statement.
Kim flew to Beijing and then crossed the river border between China and North Korea on August 9, the statement said, adding he had told interrogators he was motivated by poverty.
According to the South’s Yonhap news agency, Kim was unemployed and recently divorced from his wife.
He was repatriated last week through the border truce village of Panmunjom.
More than 26,000 North Koreans have escaped to the South since the end of the Korean War in 1953, but defections the other way are very rare.
In the past, the few defectors that crossed into North Korea were usually allowed to remain.
The North announced on September 5 that it would repatriate Kim but did not say why.
In an unusual move last year, Pyongyang sent home six South Koreans who had entered the North between 2009 and 2012.