SEOUL: North Korea announced Monday it was releasing and deporting a South Korean citizen and US resident who was arrested back in April for illegal entry, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said.
Joo Won-Moon, a 21-year-old student at New York University, was to be repatriated through the border truce village of Panmunjom on the inter-Korean border at around 5:30 pm (0830 GMT), the ministry said in a statement.
Joo’s release came after he was presented to the media in Pyongyang on September 25 and read out what appeared to be an officially approved statement, admitting his guilt and singing the country’s praises.
Unlike some other foreign citizens detained in the North, he was never put on trial.
“This morning North Korea’s Red Cross sent a message saying it would repatriate Joo at 5:30 pm through Panmunjom,” the ministry statement said.
It welcomed Joo’s release but urged Pyongyang to follow through by repatriating three other South Korean nationals held in the North.
Joo was arrested after crossing the Yalu River into the North from the Chinese border city of Dandong on April 22.
He told CNN in an interview in May that he had crossed two barbed-wire fences and walked through farmland until he reached a large river. He followed the river until soldiers arrested him.
“I thought that by my entrance . . . some great event could happen and hopefully that event could have a good effect on the relations between the North and (South Korea),” he said at the time.