After more than a month of wrangling, the South Korean administration has announced that 27 North Koreans will be repatriated across the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea tomorrow.
This morning, North Korea apparently sent a telephone message to the South in which it stated, “With consideration for the feelings of the families whom are waiting for these detained people, send the 27 people first by sea.”
In response, the Ministry of Unification apparently sent a telephone message to the Chosun Red Cross Society in which it agreed, saying, “Based on humanitarian considerations, we will repatriate the 27 North Korean citizens by sea.”
Given the existence of a warning about high seas, the Ministry said it also stated that it would be prepared to repatriate the 27 via Panmunjeom on the morning of the 16th, if necessary.
North Korea did not mention the other four members of the 31-man group who have said they wish to defect. On this, an official with the Ministry pointed out, “Since they made clear their intention to remain in South Korea of their own free will, there is no particular change in their treatment.”