PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea's Foreign Ministry on Thursday accused South Korea of committing "political terror" by stepping up efforts to encourage defections by North Koreans overseas, especially diplomats.
Ju Wang Hwan, a ministry official working in its Institute for Disarmament and Peace, said North Korean diplomats around the world have received emails with attachments containing articles that look like they are from North Korean state media. He said the articles have been changed to confuse and influence their intended readers by "viciously slandering our supreme leader and our socialist system."
"This is clearly political terror, trying to cause social chaos and bloodshed inside a sovereign state," Ju said in an interview in Pyongyang.
In a long statement released by North Korea's state news agency Thursday, the North's Foreign Ministry also accused South Korean agents of calling and following its diplomats in attempts to encourage them to defect.
Jeong Joon-Hee, spokesman of Seoul's Unification Ministry, dismissed the North Korean claims as "groundless" and "distorted propaganda."
Several high-profile North Korean defections have occurred this year. A group of North Korean women working at a restaurant in China defected in April, but Pyongyang authorities insisted they were abducted against their will.
North Korean deputy ambassador to London Thae Yong Ho also defected to South Korea this year. He is the most senior official publicly acknowledged to have done so in recent years. Pyongyang did not dispute his defection, but accused him of running away from sexual and financial crimes.