A South Korean worker was freed on Thursday from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) after being detained in the territory for 137 days.
Yoo Seong-jin (C), a worker who was detained by North Korea, makes his way between the media upon his arrival at the South Korean Customs, Immigration and Quarantine office, south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, north of Seoul, August 13, 2009, after he crossed the border.[Xinhua/Reuters Photo]
Yu Seong-jin, a 44-year-old engineer of Hyundai Asan Corp., was seized by the DPRK authorities on Mar. 30 for publicly slandering its political regime, together with alluring a female DPRK worker to defect from the nation.
Yu had been working in the joint industrial complex at the DPRK 's border town of Kaesong before being detained by the DPRK authorities.
Since late March, the South Korean government has made several attempts, including three rounds of government-level talks, to push for his release.
During the three-time negotiations, held on June 11, June 19, and July 2, the South Korean government repeatedly requested the release of the detainee, which was rejected by the DPRK.
The DPRK, meanwhile, announced that it deepened investigations on Yu, saying his actions were in serious breach of its law.
The DPRK authorities also kept silent on details of Yu's status, including his health conditions and whereabouts.
Despite the detainee issue, in addition to the DPRK's rocket launch, missile attempts, and nuclear test, stalled the inter- Korean relations, the South Korean government stuck to its firm stance with respect to pushing for his release.
President Lee in early August said that Seoul is doing everything in its power to secure the release of the detained worker.
On Aug. 10, a few days after former U.S. President Bill Clinton visited the DPRK and won the release of two female journalists, Hyundai Group's Chief Hyun Jung-eun left for Pyongyang in pursuit of Yu's release.
The visit was made amid growing expectations that the DPRK would free the worker as the previous journalist case hinted at the DPRK's softened policy directions, local Yonhap News reported.
Hyun was originally planned to stay in Pyongyang for three days, which was later extended twice for "unknown" reasons, but finally saw the release of his employee on late Thursday.
Handed over to Hyundai Asan at 05:10 p.m. (0810 GMT), Yu crossed the inter-Korean border later at 08:30 p.m. (1130 GMT) to head for home.
Upon his return, Yu received brief medical check-ups, and " doesn't seem to have particular problems in his health," South Korea's Unification Ministry Chun Hae-sung said.
There has been no charge related to Yu's release, Chun added.