2 S. Koreans missing near China-NK border: foreign ministry

SEOUL, May 17 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s foreign ministry said Tuesday that it is trying to confirm the whereabouts of two nationals who recently vanished while traveling near the border between China and North Korea, spawning speculations that they might have been kidnapped.

“So far this year, reports have been made to the consulate general in Shenyang that contact with six (South) Koreans has been lost,” a foreign ministry official said. “Four of them have been confirmed safe, but the whereabouts of the other two still remain unknown.”

The government and media reports suspect that one of the two is a North Korean defector. The foreign ministry said that it is seeking to locate them through cooperation with Chinese authorities.

Concerns have been growing about the possibility of North Koreans kidnapping South Koreans traveling near the border between China and North Korea since Pyongyang openly threatened to “retaliate” unless Seoul repatriates 13 North Korean restaurant workers who defected here last month.

An ethnic Korean pastor, who had a reputation for assisting North Korean defectors, was recently murdered in the northeastern Chinese province of Jilin. North Korean agents are suspected to be involved in the killing.

On Monday, the foreign ministry advised local tour agencies not to sell products promoting trips to areas bordering North Korea, as the country is on high alert against the likelihood of terrorist attacks by Pyongyang.

kokobj@yna.co.kr

(END)

[Source: Yonhap News Agency]

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