Chosun Central News Agency (KCNA) reported yesterday that a defector called Jeon Young Cheol has been arrested for plotting to destroy a statue of Kim Il Sung. However, Daily NK has learned that the man in question was actually repatriated back to North Korea by China after being arrested by the Chinese security forces for a drugs offense.
North Korea’s claim, outlined in a press conference, is that Jeon entered a border city on June 18th at 11PM to scout for a location to attack, and then returned to China but was arrested in the process. However, Daily NK can reveal that this is not the case.
One of Jeon’s close friends, Jung told Daily NK, “Jeon Young Chul was not caught trying to destroy a statue of Kim Il Sung in North Korea. I was told by the Chinese security forces that he was arrested in Longjing for attempting to trade in ice [methamphetamines]. The North Korean claim is not true.”
According to Jung, Jeon was repatriated to North Korea on May 23rd, not June 18th. It is likely that the National Security Agency asked for his repatriation after confirming the facts surrounding his arrest in China. Jung said that his friend Jeon was a former drug dealer in North Korea, too.
Jung said about the circumstances surrounding Jeon’s arrest, “Around 4PM on May 23rd he told people he had something to take care of, and then went to get ice from an overseas Chinese woman, but was arrested in the process.”
A South Korean government official said today regarding Jeon, “Yes he was a North Korean defector who came to South Korea. We don’t know exactly how he came here, but are checking it out.”
But, the official added, “The interview with Jeon is propaganda, and it is not something we should respond to.”
According to the Ministry of Unification, Jeon lived in Chongjin, North Hamkyung Province before he defected in April of 2010 and entered South Korea in November of that year. After receiving resettlement education for three months at Hanawon he lived in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province. He had no family in South Korea.