South Korea: At least four North Korean defectors potentially exposed to radiation


South Korea said Wednesday that at least four North Korean defectors have exhibited signs of radiation exposure, but it’s not known if the exposure is due to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Reuters reported that the four defectors are among 30 former residents of North Korea’s Kilju county, which includes the nuclear test site Punggye-ri, that South Korea’s government has examined since October.

North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test since 2006 in tunnels under the mountains of Punggye-ri on Sept. 3, but all 30 people defected before then.


Researchers at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute estimate the defectors were exposed to radiation between 2009 and 2013, saying it could have happened in a number of ways. Still, experts warn that more nuclear tests in the Punggye-ri area could risk radioactive pollution.

The Trump administration has tried to curtail Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions with verbal threats — most notably President Trump’s warning of “fire and fury” in August — as well as with an increase in military drills in the area and economic sanctions.

Tags Donald Trump North Korea North Korean defectors Punggye-ri Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site radiation South Korea
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