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South Korea arrests pastor after rare border handover

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SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean pastor who spent nearly 70 days in North Korea on an unauthorized visit was detained on Friday after returning home in a rare crossing at their heavily armed border.

Rev. Han Sang-ryol, a pro-unification activist, was taken into custody and handed over to related authorities after crossing at Panmunjom, where the armistice halting the Korean War was signed in 1953, a government official said.

South Koreans need government permission to visit the North as the two countries are still technically at war, but officials say Han’s visit had not been approved.

He is believed to have flown to North Korea from China around June 12.

Panmunjom, about 50 km (30 miles) north of Seoul, is considered one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. In the past, the post has been used as the point to return the remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the war.

Reporting by Jeremy Laurence; Editing by David Fox