Refugee flights anger North Korea

SEOUL: North Korea accused the South yesterday of committing “a terrorist crime” when it brought in more than 450 North Korean refugees from South-East Asia in secretive flights this week. 

North Korea broke its silence a day after the end of a two-day operation that brought the largest arrival of refugees from the North since the 1950-53 Korean War.  

Seoul cloaked the exodus in secrecy partly to avoid provoking Pyongyang. 

“South Korea will be held responsible for the aftermath of the operation and all forces that co-operated with it will pay a high price,” the South's Yonhap news agency quoted the North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland as saying. 

The committee handles the North's ties with the South. 

The statement carried no specific threat. 


One way the North could retaliate would be to boycott North-South ministerial talks slated to be held in Seoul next week. 


Officials in Seoul said they were concerned because the North has ignored South Korean requests to discuss the agenda. 


The North's committee called the refugee operation “the greatest act of hostility intended to crumble our system”. 


“South Korea's co-operation with the United States' bill designed to overturn our system of socialism by damaging our republic's international reputation and trying to accomplish regime change is a criminal act of anti-nationalism and will never be forgiven,” the spokesman said. – Reuters  

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