N Koreans soften line on defector
Tuesday 18 February 1997
The apparent softening of its position could ease the way for Mr Hwang to leave the South Korean consulate in Peking, where he has been holed up since asking for asylum there on Wednesday.
"If he was kidnapped, we cannot tolerate and we will take decisive counter- measures," said a spokesman of the North's Foreign Ministry. "If he sought asylum, it means that he is a renegade and he is dismissed."
South Korean officials took the comment as indicating North Korea was abandoning its earlier position, in which it had rejected Mr Hwang's defection as "inconceivable and impossible." Right after his defection, North Korea accused South Korea of kidnapping him and threatened to retaliate. Mr Hwang, 73, a key Communist theoretician, was once the tutor of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il.
Yesterday's comment "seems to imply that North Korea will accept it if independent parties, like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, rule that Hwang is a political defector," said Kang Ho Yang, spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry. The North Korean spokesman told the official news agency that the North asked China to investigate Mr Hwang's "disappearance."
His comment was the first sign of a possible breakthrough in the stand- off at South Korea's consulate in Peking, where the North Koreans had been keeping a vigil.
In deciding whether to allow Mr Hwang to proceed to South Korea, China faces a dilemma. It does not want to infuriate North Kore. But China also has diplomatic ties with Seoul and wants to encourage commercial ties. In Peking, China kept silent yesterday on Mr Hwang's fate, while police guarded the South Korean consulate.
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...