North Korea to return South Korean who crossed border

North Korea to return South Korean who crossed border

SEOUL - North Korea said Wednesday it would send back on "humanitarian" grounds a South Korean who had crossed illegally into its territory.

The North's state news agency KCNA said Ma Sang-Ho, 52, had entered the country in late November but gave no further details.

He admitted his illegal entry and "earnestly requested to let him live in the DPRK (North Korea) as the south side restricts his freedom, while treating him as a mentally deranged person", it said.

"We have decided to persuade him into going back to where his parents live from humanitarian point of view," the agency said.

It said the North's Red Cross had sent a notice to its counterpart in the South, informing him that Ma would be handed over Friday through the border truce village of Panmunjom.

Defections from North to South Korea are common but movements the other way are rare.

The inter-Korean land border is heavily fortified and almost all North Korean refugees cross first to China.

They then travel on to another country, often in Southeast Asia, before coming to Seoul.

The Seoul government has said 1,516 North Koreans fled to South Korea in 2013, maintaining a recent fall in the number of escapees that coincided with a clampdown by new leader Kim Jong-Un.

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