A North Korean defector accused of illegally crossing into the country with coronavirus symptoms last week was facing a sexual assault case when he returned to his homeland.
The man, identified only by his surname, Kim, was accused of attacking a female defector in her 20s at his home in South Korea in a complaint filed with police on 12 June.
He denied the charges when interviewed by detectives later that month, but someone he knew told investigators that he allegedly threatened the woman and planned to flee to the North.
Image: North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un has insisted his country has no cases of coronavirus
A warrant for Kim’s arrest was issued two days later, but according to North Korean state media by that time he was already back across the border.
On Sunday, state media said a “runaway” suspected of carrying the virus returned to the North on 19 July.
It accused the man of “illegally crossing the demarcation line” that separates the two Koreas as a state of emergency was declared around Kaesong city, where he was found.
Kim evaded Seoul’s high-tech border control systems by crawling through a drainpipe and swimming across the Han River on 19 July, South Korean military chief Park Han-ki told the country’s parliament on Tuesday.
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It is believed he survived in the South by borrowing money from other defectors and owed at least one 20 million won (£13,000).
Kim, described as 5ft 3in and weighing just 54 kg (119 lbs), worked in Kaesong, a North Korean border town where the two countries worked together until joint projects were closed amid rising tensions in 2016.
He decided to defect to the South, he said in a YouTube video filmed with a fellow defector in South Korea last month.
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“After passing through barbed-wire fences, I encountered minefields, which I bypassed and came to a reed field near the Han River where I stayed hidden for about three hours,” he said in the video.
Although 16 million coronavirus infections have been reported worldwide, in North Korea Kim Jong Un’s regime has denied it has any cases.
That claim has always appeared unlikely because of the nature of the virus and because North Korea shares a 1,400km (870 mile) border with China, where the virus was discovered.
Some say North Korea may be using the re-defection as one way to admit it has cases of the disease, while blaming South Korea.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said on Sunday: “Blaming an alleged return defector for bringing COVID-19 into the country is likely intended to shift blame for spread of the virus away from China and Pyongyang and on to Seoul.”
Source : Sky News