North Korea sends back 'trespasser' from South

By Alex Jensen

SEOUL (AA) – North Korea sent a South Korean "trespasser" back home via the border Tuesday "upon the principle of humanitarianism", according to Pyongyang's state-run KCNA news agency.

The North told Seoul that the 34-year-old man illegally arrived in the reclusive state on July 22.

He is under investigation in his home country, as it is not yet clear why he went to North Korea, reportedly via China.

Inter-Korean travel is forbidden without permission from both sides of the closely guarded border.

Still, the South Korean government welcomed the rare repatriation case as "positive from a humanitarian perspective", a Unification Ministry official was quoted as saying by local news agency Yonhap.

However, there has been no sign that Pyongyang will agree to the release of six other long-term South Korean prisoners being held in North Korea — including three missionaries sentenced to a life of hard labor.

The North has also been demanding the return of a dozen waitresses that it claims were abducted by Seoul agents in 2016.