N. Korea sentences two S. Koreans to life in prison

Posted on : 2015-06-24 17:43 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Announcement apparently retaliation for S. Korea permitting the opening of an office in Seoul to monitor N. Korea human rights
 Choi Chun-gil had been arrested for spying in North Korea
Choi Chun-gil had been arrested for spying in North Korea

North Korea sentenced Kim Guk-gi, 61, and Choi Chun-gil, 56, two South Korean citizens that it had detained, to life in prison.

“Kim Guk-gi and Choi Chun-gil, spies and agents for the puppet regime who were apprehended while plotting and spying against the Republic under the control of the Americans and their puppet regime in South Korea, were tried in the Supreme Court and sentenced to life in prison,” the Korean Central Television (KCTV), North Korea’s state news broadcaster, said on June 23.

Analysts believe that the verdict was a response to the establishment in Seoul of a UN office for North Korean human rights on the same day.

The South Korean government expressed its regret about the sentencing. “By unilaterally carrying out a show trial without any kind of prior notification to the South Korean government or to the families of the accused and by unfairly sentencing them to life in prison, North Korea is in flagrant violation not only of international practices but also of human rights and the humanitarian spirit,” said a statement released by the spokesperson of the Unification Ministry.

This past March, North Korea announced in a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report that it had arrested Kim, a missionary, for espionage. North Korea accused Kim of being hired by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) while he was running an underground church in China to provide information about the routes used by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to move through China.

The KCNA reported that Choi had also been hired by the NIS to purchase North Korean military uniforms for South Korean commandos to wear when infiltrating North Korea.

“Given the timing, it’s safe to assume that North Korea was responding to the establishment of the UN North Korean human rights office. South Korea ought to be playing the role of a mediator in order to improve North Korean human rights on a strategic level. Allowing the UN office to be established in Seoul is going to be a thorn in the side of inter-Korean relations,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.


By Kim Ji-hoon, staff reporter


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