By Alex Jensen
SEOUL (AA) - Two South Koreans are unaccounted for after going missing near North Korea’s Chinese border, Seoul’s foreign ministry revealed Tuesday -- a day after warning against travel to the area.
Six citizens from the South were reported to have been lost from contact this year, but four of them have been confirmed safe, according to a ministry official who was quoted by local news agency Yonhap as saying that “the whereabouts of the other two still remain unknown.”
One of the two missing travelers is believed to be a defector from North Korea, which recently accused Seoul of abducting more than a dozen of its people working at a restaurant in China until last month.
The development is all the more concerning because Pyongyang warned of a retaliation if South Korea does not return the 12 waiting staff and their manager.
Moreover, the North has been accused of involvement in the April murder of a Christian pastor known to have supported defectors in China, although Pyongyang has denied the claim put forward by South Korean activists.
During a meeting between Seoul’s foreign ministry and travel agency representatives Monday, Deputy Minister for Overseas Koreans Han Dong-man cautioned that “there is a possibility of various types of attacks, such as abduction and terror, on our people who visit or stay in the North Korea-China border regions.”
Aside from Christian missionary efforts, South Koreans show interest in traveling to the North’s border with China to see Mount Paektu -- but without special permission they can only legally reach the historic location from the Chinese side.
Han’s warning came as the United States updated its official advice against all trips to North Korea.