NATIONAL

N. Koreans in Libya ordered not to return

By 신혜인
  • Published : Apr 10, 2011 - 18:49
  • Updated : Apr 10, 2011 - 18:49
North Korea has ordered its citizens in Libya not to return home, a move apparently aimed at preventing the news of anti-government movements in the northern African state from spreading among its isolated people, a source here said Sunday.

The communist North has ordered its embassy in Libya to “obey the measures taken by the Libyan government” instead of sending people back home, the source said, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Some 200 North Korean doctors, nurses and construction workers are believed to be residing in Libya mostly for foreign currency earning purposes. Two North Korean doctors were recently hurt while working at a hospital in the southern Tripoli area amid bombardment by allied forces against the Libyan government, according to reports.

North Korea appears to be the only state reluctant to evacuate its people from Libya, hit by months-long pro-democracy upheaval. The reclusive Pyongyang keeps its people isolated from outside news as a mater of course, largely to keep them loyal toward its “Dear Leader.”

Of the two Koreas, the North was first to establish diplomatic ties with Libya in 1974. The two sides also signed a cooperation pact upon Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s visit to Pyongyang in 1982.

The North Korea regime is also expected to forbid its people in other nearby nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates from returning home for similar reasons.

Meanwhile, the number of South Koreans remaining in Libya currently stands at 60, as Seoul has been continuing to pull its people out for fear over their safety. A travel ban was also issued last month.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)