North Korea to return 6 South Korean detainees
The Unification Ministry has announced that Pyongyang's Red Cross sent an official letter, saying it will return six South Koreans Friday afternoon across the border at the truce village of Panmunjeom.
The ministry says they're scheduled to be handed over to South Korean authorities at 4:20 p.m. local time.
All of them, identified only by their last names, are men and range in age from 27 and 67.
But little else is known about them, and an investigation to determine their full identities, and how and why they crossed the border to the North in the first place will begin once they set foot on South Korean soil.
Officials presume that group includes four South Koreans who were reported to have been detained in the North since 2010.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency had reported in February 2010 that they were investigating four South Koreans for illegally having entered their country.
Officials added that it's fortunate, that Pyonyang has made such a decision from a humanitarian standpoint.
The move comes after North Korea approved a visit by South Korean lawmakers to the joint industrial park at Gaeseong where operations recently resumed.
With these unexpected friendly gestures from the North, much attention is being drawn to their intentions.
Some experts say the reclusive state is making the moves as bargaining chips to attain parallel offers from the South Korean government, such as the return of North Korean defectors.
Others argue that Pyongyang may simply be seeking a breakthrough in strained inter-Korean relations, before reopening dialogue with other regional neighbors.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.
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