- The Washington Times - Monday, October 28, 2013

In a rare occurrence, six defectors were repatriated to South Korea on Friday after reportedly entering the North through China several years ago.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced the return of the six men, ages 27 to 67, along with the body of the South Korean wife of one of the defectors, CNN reported.

The men reportedly told officials that they had entered North Korea illegally through China between 2009 and 2012, according to South Korea’s semiofficial Yonhap news agency.

Jasper Kim, founder of the Asia-Pacific Global Research Group, said the men appeared to have been motivated to defect largely out of “socio-economic disillusionment” and desperation. Yonhap reported that some of the men had participated in pro-Pyongyang campaigns online and anticipated a better life there.

Mr. Kim said the story of the six defectors has been big news in South Korea, where citizens are accustomed to seeing North Koreans go to great lengths to flee the oppressive nation.

Instead, the men say they were detained in prison camps for up to 45 months before being returned to their homeland, CNN reported.

The widower of the dead woman said he strangled her as part of a failed suicide pact, but a statement from South Korea’s Unification Ministry said that Pyongyang officials claimed the man had murdered his wife in a heated argument, CNN said.

Arrest warrants were issued for the men for breaching national security laws, and the woman’s death will be investigated, the report said.