N.Korean defector leaves for US for congressional hearing

Hanoi: This AP photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump (4th from R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (4th from L) at a dinner meeting at a Hanoi hotel on Feb. 27, 2019. Two American officials — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (back, R) and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney (front, R) — and two North Korean officials — Kim Yong-chol, a senior Workers’ Party official (far L), and Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho (front, L) — also joined the meeting. (Yonhap/IANS)

Seoul, Jan 28 (IANS) A high-profile North Korean defector-turned-activist has left for the US to attend a congressional hearing on a bill passed by South Korea to ban the sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets, his lawyer confirmed on Thursday.

Park Sang-hak, who runs Fighters for a Free North Korea, flew to Washington on Wednesday to attend the hearing that New Jersey Representative Chris Smith is seeking to convene to discuss the anti-leafleting law, reports Yonhap News Agency.

“Park left for the US yesterday for the purpose of attending the U.S. Congress hearing and other reasons with a plan to return in early March,” the Yonhap news report quoted Lee Heon, the lawyer serving as Park’s legal representative, as saying.

The date of the hearing is yet to be confirmed, Lee added.

Last month, the South Korean National Assembly passed the bill penalising the sending of anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets into the North despite strong objection by opposition party lawmakers.

Park had earlier filed a constitutional complaint against the ban.

The sending of leaflets across the border by activist groups has emerged as a major source of cross-border tensions since Pyongyang called it a violation of an inter-Korean summit agreement and also threatened to take a series of retaliatory steps against South Korea if it did not stop such activity.

In June 2020, North Korea also blew up a joint liaison office in its border town of Kaesong in anger over the leafleting issue.

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