February 19, 1997 in Nation/World

North Korea Says ‘Cowards’ Free To Leave

Compiled From Wire Services

In another sign that North Korea might accept the defection of a top official, that country’s communist leader, Kim Jong Il, said in an official radio broadcast Tuesday that “cowards” were welcome to leave.

“As the revolutionary song says: ‘Cowards, leave if you want to. We will defend the red flag of revolution to the end,”’ Kim was quoted as saying.

The remark raises the prospect that the defection, as well as the shooting here on Saturday of another North Korean defector, might not derail efforts to improve relations on the Korean Peninsula.

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