by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
North Korea has deported a Korean American aid worker, accusing her of using her humanitarian status as a cover to produce anti-North Korean propaganda, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Sandra Suh is the founder of the Los Angeles-based humanitarian organization, Wheat Ministries.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Wednesday that Suh had visited North Korea a number of times over the past 20 years “under the pretense of humanitarianism.” It also claimed that Suh had “engaged in plot-breeding” by secretly producing photos and videos that had been used as “propaganda abroad.”
According to the organization’s website, Suh founded Wheat Ministries in 1989 to provide food aid and medical technology to North Korea and formally established it as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2005. However, she is not listed as a current staff member.
KCNA reported that Suh “apologized for her crimes and earnestly begged for pardon” and said the authorities decided to deport her because of her “old age.”
According to the L.A. Times, Suh was originally from the Pyongyang area, but fled south during the 1950-53 Korean War. She initially began visiting North Korea in hopes of reuniting with her long-lost family members.
Suh arrived at the Beijing Capital International Airport on a flight from Pyongyang on Thursday, according a U.S. embassy spokesman. There has been no further news about Suh’s detainment or release.
In February, North Korea expelled Regina Feindt, the country director of German aid agency Welthungerhilfe, without any explanation or warning. The isolated state also detained a Korean Canadian pastor, who went missing during a humanitarian mission, in the same month.