S.Korea Activist Arrested on Return From North

by
Reuters
South Korean authorities arrested a pro-North Korea activist on Thursday as he walked across the rival states' heavily armed border on Thursday ending an unauthorised visit to Pyongyang in alleged violation of a bitterly disputed anti-communism law.

A policeman (C) stands guard as dozens of environmental activists stage a rally to demand the closing of the Gori nuclear power plant, in front of the main office of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission in Seoul June 18, 2012. The activists demanded the Gori-1 reactor to be closed permanently and opposed the restart of the reactor in Busan, southeast of Seoul, where operation was suspended after an incident in February in which the reactor lost its power for 12 minutes during a safety inspection, according to local media.

South Korean authorities arrested a pro-North Korea activist on Thursday as he walked across the rival states' heavily armed border on Thursday ending an unauthorised visit to Pyongyang in alleged violation of a bitterly disputed anti-communism law.

Ro Su-hui, who is a leader of a South Korean group that has maintained friendly ties with North Korean groups, had spent more than three months in Pyongyang attending national events that glorified its two dead leaders and criticised Seoul.

"While in the North I have felt that the North where the leader and the people form a harmonious whole will surely build a thriving nation thanks to political stability and strong economic potential," Ro was quoted as saying on Tuesday by the North's official KCNA news agency.

"In the North the people are regarded as Heaven, children as kings and the single-minded unity is stronger than nuclear weapons."

South Korea's National Security Law, which dates back to the early days of division on the Korean peninsula before their 1950-53 civil conflict, makes it a criminal offence that carries a jail term to glorify the North's political system.

Ro was heavily bound and shackled as he was rushed from a police van that picked him up at the border into the police precinct serving the county bordering North Korea about one hour from Seoul.

He did not have a chance to answer questions from reporters.

Critics of conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said the anti-communism law has been applied with greater and unnecessary frequency despite the statute having outlasted its use after being drawn up in a period of deep ideological conflict on the divided peninsula.

Tension between the two Koreas spiked after a torpedo attack in 2010 many believe was launched by North Korea sunk a South Korean navy ship killing 46 sailors. Pyongyang denies its role. The North bombed a South Korean island later in that year killing four people in the first such attack on South Korean soil since the war.

North Korea is now ruled by the third of the Kim dynasty, Kim Jong-un, who took office in December after the death of his father. There have been few signs the North is giving up its military first policies and its news outlets have stepped up criticism of South Korea.