South Korean Intel officials are investigating whether Lim Ji-hyun, a prominent defector from North Korea, has been kidnapped back to Pyongyang.
Lim Ji-hyun fled to South Korea in 2014, where she became a popular TV personality.
However, a woman resembling her appeared in a propaganda video in Pyongyang on July 16 – prompting speculation she may have been abducted.
In the video, Lim Ji-hyun says she was lured away and forced to slander North Korea.
The woman says that she voluntarily returned across the border.
The South Korean authorities have not yet confirmed if the woman in the propaganda video is Lim Ji-hyun. However, they believe Lim Ji-hyun is back in North Korea.
The propaganda video was released on Youtube by the North Korean Uriminzokkiri website on July 16.
In the video, the woman introduces herself by another name, Jeon Hye-Sung.
The woman is shown in conversation with an interviewer and Kim Man-bok, another former defector who also returned to North Korea.
She says she was lured to South Korea by the “fantasy” that she could “eat well and make lots of money” and claims that she was forced into slandering her own country.
The woman describes how in South Korea everything was judged by money, how she was struggling to make ends meet and was asked to discredit North Korea on several TV shows.
She said she was now living back with her parents again after returning to North Korea last month.
“I felt really lonely in South Korea and I missed my parents,” she said in the video.
JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reports that the defector had thanked her fans as recently as April for a birthday party, calling it “possibly the happiest birthday of my life”.
Her fan club announced on July 16 it would shut.
The South Korean intelligence officials are investigating how Lim Ji-hyun might have re-entered North Korea.
Some North Korean defectors have speculated that Lim Ji-hyun may have been abducted on the China-North Korean border while attempting to smuggle out family members, the Korea Times reports.
Over the past decade, tens of thousands of North Koreans have defected from the authoritarian state into South Korea.
According to the unification ministry in Seoul, since 2012 only 25 returned.
Some North Korean defectors have described difficulties in adapting to life in South Korea – many miss their families in the North, or struggle to find suitable jobs.