N. Korea to Return 6 Detained South Koreans

FILE - North Korean soldiers guard the truce village of Panmunjom at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which separates the two Koreas.
North Korea has informed Seoul that it will return six unidentified South Koreans across the country’s heavily militarized border.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said it was told by the North the transfer will take place Friday at the border village of Panmunjom. Seoul says it plans to accept the returnees.

The ministry said it does not know the identities of the six, but says they may include four of its citizens who were detained after illegally entering the North in 2010. Seoul says Pyongyang has repeatedly refused its requests for information on the four.

It is illegal for South Koreans to visit the North without government permission. Cases of defection to the impoverished communist state are extremely rare.

The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war, since their 1950s conflict ended in a truce instead of a peace treaty.

Earlier this year, North-South ties hit a low not seen in years following Pyongyang’s third nuclear test. Relations have since slightly improved, with both countries agreeing to resume some cross-border projects.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.