Han Sung-ok, 42, seemed determined to pick through nearly every lettuce on the market stand. She turned each one over and examined it while her six-year-old son clambered on the fence nearby. The vegetable seller in the southern Seoul suburb looked on, annoyed. This was one picky customer and she didn't even buy a lot of vegetables - only one or two items for as little as she could pay. On this occasion it was a lettuce for 500 won (about $0.40; £0.33). Uttering only a few words, Han handed over her money and left with her son.Just a few weeks later, both were dead. Having fled food shortages in her native North Korea and dreaming of a new life, Han and her son are believed to have starved to death in one of the wealthiest cities in Asia. Their bodies lay undiscovered for two months until someone came to read the water meter and noticed a bad smell.Mother and son were found apart on the floor. The only food in their tiny rented apartment was a bag of red pepper chilli flakes. 'If … [Read more...] about Han Sung-ok: Was this North Korean defector failed by the South?
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Two South Korean intelligence officials have been accused of raping a North Korean defector, with one said to have abused her dozens of times.The alleged victim, who had been in the two men's custody, was forced to have two abortions, her lawyers say.The officials, a lieutenant colonel and a master sergeant, have been suspended and an investigation has begun.North Korean women who defect are more vulnerable to sexual assault than South Koreans, human rights activists say. Daring escape from sexcam captivity N Korea women 'forced into China sex trade' Difficult economic circumstances can make them reluctant to speak out.What are the allegations?The defence ministry's intelligence command is tasked with investigating North Korean defectors and gathering intelligence.Early this year, the two suspects were assigned the woman's custody, law firm Good Lawyers told BBC Korean.According to the law firm, the first time the woman was raped she was unconscious as a result of drinking … [Read more...] about South Korea intelligence officers accused of raping defector from North
South Korea's spy agency has told officials that North Korea's ambassador to Italy has disappeared.The announcement follows unconfirmed reports that Pyongyang's top diplomat in Italy had sought asylum from an unidentified Western country.Jo Song-gil, the acting North Korean ambassador to Rome, is the son and son-in-law of high-ranking North Korean officials.The last senior diplomat to defect was the deputy ambassador in London.Thae Yong-ho abandoned his post in 2016, along with his wife and children. He defected to South Korea.As one of the highest-ranking officials to ever defect from the North, his move was seen as a blow to Kim Jong-un's regime. He would go on to urge the world to spread information in North Korea to undermine Mr Kim's status among his people.Speaking after a briefing from the spy agency on Thursday, Kim Min-ki, a government MP, told reporters that Mr Jo fled the Rome embassy more than a month ago."Acting ambassador Jo Song-gil's term was ending in late November … [Read more...] about North Korea ambassador to Italy ‘disappears’, says South
A South Korean fashion and cosmetics firm has stirred controversy with a facial mask featuring Kim Jong-un. The firm says it has sold more than 25,000 "unification moisture nuclear masks" since June.However many South Korean stores have halted sales amid a public backlash and concerns over the masks' legality.The North Korean leader and his regime have been criticised by the United Nations for "systematic, widespread" human rights abuses.In South Korea it is illegal to speak favourably of the North Korean government, though the law is rarely enforced.Both North and South Korea are still technically at war, but leaders from both countries attended talks this year over denuclearisation.'Political agenda'The so-called "nuke masks" were created by 5149, a South Korean fashion and cosmetics company.North Korea's sidelined human rights crisisPropaganda-style slogans claim they contain mineral water from Mount Paektu. In Korean mythology, the sacred, active volcano is the birthplace of … [Read more...] about Kim Jong-un face mask stirs controversy in South Korea
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine defense chief said Wednesday he recommended that President Rodrigo Duterte not extend martial law in the country’s south, where it was imposed in 2017 to help troops quell a bloody siege by Islamic State group-aligned jihadists in Marawi city. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he told the president on Wednesday that Muslim militants have been weakened considerably and are no longer able to carry out an attack like the Marawi siege. Duterte has extended the martial rule three times and it is due to expire at year’s end. There was no immediate reaction from the president. “The Armed Forces of the Philippines believes that the Maute group and other threat groups can no longer launch a Marawi-type attack as their forces and capabilities have significantly dwindled,” Lorenzana said, referring to one of the IS-linked groups blamed for the attack in the Islamic city. Troops have also made significant progress in … [Read more...] about Defense chief tells Duterte martial law in south can now end
North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un secretly embarked Sunday on a trip to China with state media in both countries later confirming the four-day visit on Wednesday. Experts say Kim's debut foreign visit was not merely intended to improve chilly relations with his country's traditional ally, as flowery official media descriptions suggested, but a calculated move to pit the U.S. and China against one another. In a country ruled by one of the world's most rigid systems, Kim Jong Un has already proven himself a man of firsts. Amid a lasting Cold War–era feud between the U.S. and North Korea, the young ruler inherited power after the death of his father, in 2011, and has since then managed to oversee the successful development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and a hydrogen bomb, claiming to have completed his country's nuclear deterrent against a potential U.S. invasion. Related: What does North Korea's Kim Jong Un want from Trump? Three steps the U.S. can take to solve … [Read more...] about Why Did Kim Jong Un Go to China? This Is North Korea’s Plan to ‘Divide and Conquer’ U.S. and Its Top Rival in Asia