North says US-S. Korea drills 'throw wet blanket' on talks

Clay Curtis
November 9, 2019

The three men initially tried to return to the same North Korean port, but after one of the men was arrested, the two others fled using the same boat and were subsequently detained by the South Korean navy, according to South Korean officials.

They later told investigators they wanted to resettle in South Korea, but South Korean authorities determined they only wanted to avoid North Korean arrest and on Tuesday informed North Korea of their planned deportation, the ministry said.

It's the first time that South Korea has deported a North Korean nationwide since the slay of the 1950-53 Korean Battle, per the ministry. "The government chose to expel them as they had committed grave, non-political crimes such as murder and were not subject to our protection under the law", Lee told a briefing.

The fishing boat left the North Korean port of Kimchaek on August 15 with a crew of 19, officials say.

They then killed the other protesting crew members, one by one.

The Ministry said that the three went back to Kimchaek port with the intention of moving to another region of North Korea.

The three suspects initially returned to the North - but when one of them was captured by local police at a port, the other two made a decision to flee on their boat to the South.

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The vessel was chased by a South Korean navy ship, which fired warning shots at them.

US Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams and his South Korean counterpart are charged with ensuring that the allies are conducting the right number and type of combined events in order to maintain readiness "while allowing our diplomats the space in the room to continue negotiations with North Korea", Byrne added. It sends a signal to other North Korean escapees that South Korea no longer welcomes them.

A South Korean government source revealed the plan earlier, prompting an angry response from the North, which views all allied exercises as an invasion rehearsal regardless of their scope.

"The two defectors should be handled under the South Korean legal system. For more than 20 years, the South Korean government and the people of South Korea, the taxpayers of South Korea, have extended help and naturalization programs to about 33,000 North Koreans", said Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK). North Korean defectors are a sore point in relations between the two Koreas, with the North often claiming its citizens are held against their will in the South.

About 32,000 North Koreans have fled to the South since the end of the Korean War, a lot of them via China and in the past two decades.

North Korean refugees are first interrogated by South Korean authorities to ensure they are not spies.

North Korea has been trying to pressure the United States after demanding Washington make new proposals to revive the nuclear diplomacy by year's end.

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