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Page last updated at 10:20 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 11:20 UK

S Korea accuses refugee of spying

A North Korean soldier looks at the southern side across the demilitarised zone, 2006
North and South Korea have long had an uneasy relationship

A North Korean woman has been arrested in South Korea on suspicion of spying for her communist homeland.

Prosecutors say Won Jeong-hwa was trained in espionage before being sent to the South, where she claimed asylum.

She is accused of giving sexual favours to army officers in exchange for military secrets, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Potential refugees from North Korea go through individual screening tests before being allowed into the South.

But correspondents say that if Ms Won is found guilty of espionage, it could raise fears among South Koreans that there are other secret agents in their midst.

"We are working to expand our investigation to others, as the case showed the North could have sent more spies posing as defectors," an unidentified official told Yonhap.

Key locations

Ms Won, 35, was arrested last month, and is thought to have defected from the North in 2005.

Map of South Korea
She has been accused of collecting photographs and obtaining information about the location of key military installations, to hand over to North Korean agents in China.

Ms Won's foster father has also been arrested on suspicion of helping her.

Thousands of North Koreans have resettled in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

The number of defections has grown rapidly in recent years, as people in the North try to flee hunger and repression.

Most travel across the border to north-east China, and then - if they are not caught and repatriated by the Chinese authorities - they go on to South-East Asia and from there to South Korea.

More than 4,500 people have been exposed as spies for North Korea since the Korean peninsula was divided in 1948, officials at the Defence Security Command told Yonhap.





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