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A South Korean man kidnapped by the communist North more than 30 years ago has escaped and is now safe with South Korean authorities in China, an activist said Saturday.

Lee Han Seop, 59, fled the North last month and is at a South Korean consulate in China, said Choi Sung Yong, the head of a group of relatives of South Koreans allegedly kidnapped by the North.

The activist declined to specify which consulate Lee was staying in, out of concerns for the escapee’s safety.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry also declined to comment on the report, citing its policy of not commenting on North Korean defectors for safety concerns.

North Koreans are believed to face harsh punishment by Pyongyang’s hardline government when their relatives are found to have escaped.

Lee could not bring his North Korean wife and their two children with him because of “difficulties,” Choi said.

The abductee ended up in the North when his fishing boat was seized off South Korea’s east coast in 1975, Choi said.

Radio program

WAKAYAMA (Kyodo) The government will launch a shortwave radio program as early as on July 9 aimed at Japanese abductees possibly surviving in North Korea, Kyoko Nakayama, the prime minister’s adviser on the abduction issue, said Saturday.

The daily program will carry information on Japan’s efforts to rescue the abductees and on the victims’ hometowns, Nakayama told a meeting on the abduction issue in Wakayama Prefecture.

The parents of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korean agents in 1977 from Niigata Prefecture when she was aged 13, recorded a message for the program, Nakayama said.

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