South Korea has demanded the release of two of its citizens, who are currently detained in North Korea on charges of espionage.
KCNA, the North’s state media channel, says Kim Kuk Gi and Choe Chun Gil were arrested in 2014 for allegedly circulating counterfeit money, distributing so-called ‘unsound’ publications and collecting confidential information about the secretive state’s military.
Lim Byeong Cheol, a spokesman for the South Korean Unification Ministry, denied the men were spies.
“It is very regretful that North Korea is unilaterally detaining our citizens, Kim Kuk Gi and Choe Chun Gil, without any preceding explanation, and that it is making such absurd allegations,” he said. “Such public measures by North Korea oppose not only international practice, but also the universal values of human rights and humanitarianism.”
Outside experts claim North Korea’s detainment of its southern neighbours could be an attempt to pressure South Korea or to raise northern hostility towards the country.
Divided since the end of World War II, North and South Korea have technically been at war for more than 60 years. Earlier in 2015, the South offered to hold unification talks with their northern neighbour.