North Korean defector arrested over 'child abduction plot with South'

North Korea on Friday (July 15) paraded a defector accused of involvement in a child abduction plot it says was masterminded by South Korean agents.

In a carefully stage-managed press conference in Pyongyang, Ko Hyon-Chol, 53, "confessed" to attempting to kidnap two North Korean girl orphans and take them to the South.

South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, said in a statement it regretted that the North had arrested a South Korean national and used him for what it described as propaganda.

"They will have in-depth talks on North Korea's nuclear and other issues as well as what was discussed during the vice foreign ministerial meeting", the ministry said.

The North Korean news agency cited Ko as saying South Korea's NIS had told him kidnapped North Korean children would be put up for adoption in other countries, including Canada.

North Korea is now detaining at least three other South Koreans, two Americans and one Canadian for alleged espionage, supervision and other anti-state activities. He said he was later recruited by South Korea's spy service for a mission to abduct children from the North.

Lim added that the three also agreed to take "additional measures leading to tougher sanctions and further isolation of North Korea" should it conduct another strategic provocation.

Ko's case comes amid an ongoing dispute between North and South Korea over the April defection to the South of a dozen North Korean women working in a restaurant in China.

Ko, 53, defected to the South in 2014 after fleeing the North a year earlier, the report said.

He was arrested hours after crossing a river into North Korea from China with his inflatable boat on May 27.

Journalists were told that Ko had struggled to adjust to life in South Korea and had been unable to find a job, so sought out a defectors' organisation.

"They asked me if I knew about the 12 women who defected as a group and said that was just the beginning", Ko said.

North Korea often arranges news conferences for foreign detainees during which they read statements to acknowledge their wrongdoing and praise the North's system.

Protesters threw eggs and plastic water bottles at Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn as he spoke on the steps of the county office to apologize for not briefing residents earlier, TV footage showed.

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