North Korean agent arrested for kidnapping Christian missionary

An alleged North Korean spy has been arrested in South Korea on charges of abducting a Christian pastor and bringing him to the communist North in 2000, officials and news reports said Tuesday.

The 35-year-old man was arrested on Friday, while South Korean authorities were looking for his accomplices, South Korea's mass-circulation daily Chosun Ilbo reported.

A prosecution official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, confirmed the report, identifying the man only by his last name, Ryu.

Kim Dong-shik _ a South Korean Christian missionary who was helping North Koreans living in hiding in China after fleeing their communist homeland _ disappeared from Yanji in northern China in 2000.

South Korea later said it believed Kim was kidnapped and taken to North Korea.

Ryu reportedly worked as an agent for Pyongyang's secret police who were tracking North Korean defectors in China.

It was unclear why he entered South Korea.

Relatives and human rights activists have said Kim became a target of North Korean agents after he arranged for North Korean refugees to defect to South Korea.

"I want the government to confirm the fate of my husband first," Kim's wife, Jung Young-hwa, told South Korea's Yonhap news agency. "He was in bad health at the time of being abducted."

The Seoul-based Citizen's Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees urged South Korea to bring Kim back from North Korea.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans are believed to be living in China, after fleeing the hunger and political oppression in their homeland.