News / Asia

    North Korean Defectors Ask to Help Fight Their Former Homeland

    Members of the NKPLF reading petition before submitting it to the S Korean Defense Ministry
    Members of the NKPLF reading petition before submitting it to the S Korean Defense Ministry

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    Since the November 23 shelling of Yeonpyeong island, there has been rising anger in South Korea. Many South Koreans are angry at what they consider their government's mild response to the attack, which killed four people. Among those who want tougher action is a group of North Korean defectors.

    North Korean defectors speak up

    North Korean defectors who served in the communist state's military are asking to be allowed to take on their former comrades.

    A group called the North Korea Peoples Liberation Front on Monday delivered a petition to the South Korean defense ministry. They want permission to become a special force to help end the communist government in the North.

    Members of the North Korea Peoples Liberation Front at a briefing in Seoul
    Members of the North Korea Peoples Liberation Front at a briefing in Seoul

    Kim Seong-min is the organization's chairman. Kim says if they are given rifles, they will march to the front lines, such as Yeonpyeong island, which was hit by North Korean shells last month.

    Park Chun-guk says he is a former commander of a North Korean special forces division.

    Park says a thief knows what other thieves might do. Likewise, he says, the former North Korean soldiers understand the situation in the North, as well as the tactics and the mindset of its soldiers.

    Park was among several former North Korean soldiers at a briefing in Seoul on Monday. They gave details about the unit that fired on Yeongpyeong last month. They also said many of their former colleagues were trained to infiltrate Seoul and other cities to neutralize critical targets, including air and sea ports, to wreck South Korea's economy in the event of hostilities.

    Defectors outlook

    The defectors predict North Korea's provocations against the South will continue. That is because heir apparent Kim Jong Un needs to demonstrate credibility as a leader, much as his father, Kim Jong Il, did in the 1980's before succeeding his late father, Kim Il Sung.

    Former North Korean soldiers, who have joined a resistance group, briefing reporters
    Former North Korean soldiers, who have joined a resistance group, briefing reporters

    More than 20,000 defectors from the North live in South Korea.

    The two Koreas have remained technically at war since 1953 when three years of conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

    Tension between the two has been high since the sinking of a South Korean naval ship in March. An international investigation concluded that the Cheonan was hit by a North Korean torpedo, killing 46 sailors. Pyongyang denies any involvement.

    The North, however, did acknowledge last month's shelling of Yeonpyeong. It says the attack was justified because a South Korean military exercise on the island fired shells into disputed waters off the west coast.

    South Korea is conducting a second consecutive week of live-fire exercises. Officials have not confirmed whether any firing will take place in the disputed maritime region.

    Pyongyang says such exercises, along with recent naval maneuvers the United States has conducted with South Korea and Japan, are bringing the Korean peninsula closer to war.

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