North releases two S. Koreans detained for illegal entry
North Korea on Wednesday repatriated two South Koreans in their 50s who were detained last month for illegally entering the communist state, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said.
The two — a 59-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman — were reported missing while traveling in northeastern China near the border with North Korea.
It remains unclear who they are and why they entered the Stalinist state, but Yonhap news agency said they were believed to be husband and wife.
The two were handed over to the South at Panmunjom, an armistice village sitting on the inter-Korean border, according to the ministry.
They will be questioned to identify the reasons why they entered the North without authorization, an official of the ministry said.
Pyongyang sent home six South Koreans in 2013 and a 52-year-old South Korean man last year after rejecting their requests for defection.
However, it has rejected Seoul’s repeated calls to free four other South Koreans, including a New York University student and three missionaries, who were detained after illegally entering the country.