A North Korean defector who had lived in South Korea has been arrested in the North for conspiring with Seoul's spy agency to kidnap North Korean children, the Agence France-Press (AFP) and Japan's Kyodo news agencies reported on Friday from Pyongyang.
Blinken also said because the threat level is rising due to advancements in North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities, deterrents are necessary measures that protect the safety of the homeland and USA allies. Since then, Pyongyang has test-fired a string of ballistic missiles in defiance of a new round of toughened United Nations sanctions.
In early May, South Korea instructed its foreign embassies to take extra precautions against possible North Korean attempts to kidnap or attack South Koreans overseas.
"They asked me if I knew about the 12 women who defected as a group and said that was just the beginning", Ko said. South Korea's tourism industry is heavily dependent on Chinese tourists, and China is a key trade partner.
Eventually he selected two targets, two girls, aged eight and nine, who were in an orphanage.
The South Korean government on Friday morning strongly condemned North Korea's statement, calling it a "depraved slandering of the South Korean President, with the impure intent of dividing the South Korean public", the Ministry of Unification told NK News.
Ko was arrested after crossing a river into North Korea from China in May, KCNA said. North Korea has threatened unspecified "physical" measures in retaliation while China suspects the system would help US radars track its missiles.
The North Korean committee held South Korean President Park Geun-hye responsible for the missile defense deployment, branding her a traitor, warmonger and even a prostitute to the USA government.
Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn visited the town of Seongju, which was tapped as the site for the deployment of an advanced USA missile defense system, on Friday, in the face of strong opposition from the residents who questioned the safety and legitimacy of the government's decision.
Pyongyang called the measure a "declaration of war", closed its last remaining channels of communication with the USA and said it would handle all bilateral issues based on its "wartime laws" - including those relating to two Americans now detained in the North.
An angry mob of protestors on Friday threw eggs and water bottles at South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, calling for the retraction of a decision to deploy a USA anti-missile defence system in their home town.