Six detained S. Koreans handed over to Seoul authorities from N. Korea
North Korea, in a very rare move, returned six South Korean detainees across the border at the truce village of Panmunjom Friday.
Seoul's unification ministry has confirmed that all six of them were handed over to South Korean authorities at 4:50 p.m. Korea time.
Seoul's National Intelligence Service, police and military officials have launched a joint investigation into the detainees, to question how, when and why they crossed the border into the North.
Only scant details about them, such as their names and ages, have been disclosed so far.
Investigators presume that the group includes four South Koreans who had been detained in the North since Februrary 2010 for illegally entering the communist state.
If they are confirmed to have crossed the border voluntarily, they're expected to be punished for violating the National Security Law.
The move comes after North Korea approved a visit by South Korean lawmakers to the joint industrial park at Gaeseong where operations recently resumed.
In the wake of the sudden, unexpected friendly gestures from the North, experts say the reclusive state is using the moves as bargaining chips to attain parallel offers from the South Korean government, such as the return of North Korean defectors.
Some also 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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