Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

S. Korea Accuses N. Korea of Planning Attacks Against Embassies

Fri 03 May 2024 | 02:48 PM
Israa Farhan

South Korea's intelligence agency accused North Korea on Friday of planning "terrorist" attacks against Seoul's embassies and citizens abroad, prompting Seoul to raise the alert level of its diplomatic missions in five countries.

The National Intelligence Service of South Korea stated, "Several indications suggest that North Korea is planning terrorist attacks against our embassy staff or citizens in several countries," citing China, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

"North Korea has dispatched agents to these countries to enhance surveillance of South Korean embassies and is also undertaking specific actions, such as searching for South Korean citizens who might become potential terrorist targets,” according to a statement,

On Thursday, the South Korean Foreign Ministry announced that it had raised the counterterrorism alert level at its embassies in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, as well as its consulates in Shenyang in northeastern China and Vladivostok in the far east of Russia. Pyongyang also has diplomatic missions in these five locations.

South Korean intelligence believes these threats are linked to a wave of defections by North Korean expatriates stranded abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic and seeking to avoid returning now that Pyongyang has reopened its borders.

Defection is a severe crime in North Korea, and those attempting defection face harsh penalties along with their families back in the country. Individuals indirectly associated with defectors may also face punishment.

South Korean intelligence suspects that North Korean diplomats have sent false reports to Pyongyang, accusing South Korea of inciting these individuals to defect, in order to avoid being held indirectly responsible and punished.

As a result, the North Korean regime may be "preparing retaliatory measures" against South Korean diplomats.

Last year, 196 North Koreans arrived in South Korea, the highest number since 2017, according to South Korea's Ministry of Unification, with around ten of them belonging to the country's elite, such as diplomats and their families.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently declared that South Korea is his country's "principal enemy," and any possibility of reunification with it is futile.