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Russia has arrested a South Korean individual in the eastern part of the country, accusing him of espionage activities.

Identified by the Russian state-run TASS news agency as Baek Won-soon, he was apprehended in Vladivostok early this year. Following his detention, Baek was transferred to Moscow late last month for further investigative procedures. Currently, he is being held at Lefortovo Prison, with a recent court ruling extending his detention until June 15. The specifics of the allegations suggest Baek allegedly shared information deemed as state secrets with foreign intelligence, as stated by an anonymous law enforcement source speaking to Russian media outlets. The case’s details remain scarce, classified as “top secret.”

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In response to the situation, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has acknowledged providing consular assistance to Baek since learning of his detention while refraining from disclosing further details due to the ongoing investigation. Reports from Yonhap news agency describe Baek as a missionary engaged in assisting North Korean defectors and delivering humanitarian aid. He was taken into custody shortly after he arrived in Vladivostok from China via land transport. This incident is the first instance of a South Korean being detained in Russia on allegations of espionage.

This comes as relations between South Korea and Russia have become increasingly strained. In 2022, Russia designated South Korea an “unfriendly” nation, citing Seoul’s backing of Western sanctions. In addition, Russia’s ties with North Korea have intensified, with various meetings and exchanges between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin and weapons/technology exchanges between the two nations.


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