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S. Korean activist deported from Vietnam for aiding N.K. defectors

All Headlines 11:08 June 29, 2012

SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean activist has been released and deported from Vietnam, eight days after he was detained for allegedly helping North Korean defectors in the Southeast Asian country, an official said Friday.

The 51-year-old activist, identified only by his surname Yoo, was arrested by Vietnamese authorities at a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City on June 20, but it was not immediately clear in what ways he violated local laws, the official at Seoul's foreign ministry told reporters.

"Yoo was deported from Vietnam yesterday evening and arrived in Seoul today," the official said on customary condition of anonymity, adding the activist has been banned from re-entering the Southeast Asian nation for three years.

Yoo is suspected of helping North Korean defectors enter South Korea via Vietnam, an activity that led to his deportation once before in 2004, according to the official.

Southeast Asian nations, such as Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, have been a preferred transit route for North Korean defectors, who escape through China with the hope of eventually settling in South Korea, home to more than 23,000 North Korean defectors.

hague@yna.co.kr
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