6 South Koreans Held in North Korea
Du Ri Jang, June 15, 2017, 9:46 a.m.
Six South Korean citizens are being held captive in North Korea, according to the government's latest assessment. Three of the six are North Korean defectors who have South Korean passports. Some were kidnapped by North Korean agents while either proselytizing or helping defectors on the Chinese side of the border.
But Kim Jung-wook, a Baptist missionary, was arrested in October 2013 after sneaking into North Korea from Dandong, China in a crackpot mission to spread the gospel. He was charged with spying and sentenced to life in prison. Kim Kuk-gi and Choi Chun-gil, also both South Korean missionaries, were also charged with spying in 2014 and sentenced to life.
Kim Won-ho, a defector who became a missionary, was abducted on the Chinese side of the border in March last year, as was Koh Hyon-chol in May. He was paraded before the state media in July that year. Another defector with South Korean citizenship was also abducted around the same time.
Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng said, "A detained U.S. citizen has been released so we will try our best to secure the release of our citizens."
Otto Warmbier, an American student, was released after being imprisoned for trying to steal a propaganda poster, but had apparently been in a coma for over a year after falling ill with botulism.