Pre­pare for mass de­fec­tions: Park

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

SEOUL: South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Ge­unHye yes­ter­day told her gov­ern­ment to pre­pare for large-scale de­fec­tions from North Korea, just days af­ter di­rectly ap­peal­ing to its cit­i­zens to flee their coun­try.

A re­cent spate of high-pro­file North Korean de­fec­tions has pro­vided a pro­pa­ganda wind­fall for Seoul, which has spun them into a nar­ra­tive of a Py­ongyang lead­er­ship in cri­sis and riven with de­scent.

Notable de­fec­tions have in­cluded the North’s deputy am­bas­sador to UK and a rare group es­cape by a dozen wait­resses from a North Korean-run restau­rant in China.

Ear­lier this month, Park had vowed to “keep the road open” for fu­ture es­capees and urged North Kore­ans to “come to the bo­som of free­dom in the South”.

Speak­ing at a cabi­net meet­ing yes­ter­day, Park re­it­er­ated her de­fec­tion ap­peal, and stressed the im­por­tance of pre­par­ing the ground for any new ar­rivals.

The gov­ern­ment cur­rently runs two re­set­tle­ment cen­tres for de­fec­tors with a com­bined ca­pac­ity of around 1,100 peo­ple.

South Korea’s top-sell­ing Cho­sun Ilbo re­ported on Satur­day that the gov­ern­ment was plan­ning a two tril­lion won (RM7.5 bil­lion) project for build­ing a de­fec­tor camp that would hold up to 100,000 peo­ple. – AFP

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