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North Korean artist in Egypt defects to S. Korea

A North Korean artist formerly residing in Egypt has arrived in South Korea in a rare defection through the South Korean embassy in the Middle East country, a diplomatic source said Monday.

The North Korean did not return to Pyongyang after his term in Egypt expired and sought refuge in the embassy about two months ago, the source said.

The source did not give further details and asked not to be identified, citing the issue's sensitivity.

The defection comes months after popular uprisings in Egypt and across the Arab world ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak and other longtime autocratic leaders.

Defection has been a sensitive issue between the two Koreas, which still remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

Earlier this month, two North Koreans crossed the eastern sea border to defect to the South. The North immediately asked the South to hand over its two citizens, but South Korea rejected that demand.

Seoul has a longstanding policy of accepting any North Korean defector who wants to live in the South, but to repatriate any North Koreans who stray into the South if they want to return.

More than 22,000 North Koreans have defected to the South to avoid chronic hunger and political oppression since the war.
(Yonhap News)



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