Pro-NK activist nabbed for unauthorized trip
Investigators on Thursday raided the office of a pro-North Korean organization which illegally sent a delegate to Pyongyang in March on the occasion marking the 100th day after the death of the North’s leader Kim Jong-il.
Ro Su-hui, vice chairman of the Seoul-based organization, the South Headquarters of the Pan-national Alliance for Korea’s Reunification, was arrested by officers later in the day as soon as he walked across the border to return home. About 200 North Koreans bid farewell to him at the border village of Panmunjeom, raising flags.
Police said they also raided Ro’s house and confiscated books and documents. They also raided the house of one of Ro’s colleagues in the group for assisting in the unauthorized trip.
A group of the organization’s members protested the raid as officers stormed into their office. The group criticized the South Korean government for cracking down on pro-unification activists.
During his 104-day stay in the North, the 68-year-old Ro reportedly attended memorial services for the late North Korean leader and propaganda events as well as toured the country. On the eve of his return, he met with North Korea’s nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam, according to the North Korean Central News Agency.
Ro could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of violating the National Security Law, which prohibits people from visiting the communist country without prior permission, and praising it.
Police said they will request a court warrant as early as Friday to detain Ro for questioning.
North Korea had warned the South against arresting Ro. He traveled to Pyongyang via China on March 24.
Ro is the eighth South Korean to return home through the inter-Korean border after traveling to the North without government approval.
Last year, Rev. Han Sang-ryol, a pro-unification activist, received a three-year prison sentence for visiting the North in 2010 without permission and for praising the regime.