Was asylum seeker once a member of Aum cult?

A Japanese woman who is believed to have entered North Korea seeking asylum in August has the same name and date of birth as a former member of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, it was learned Wednesday.

Members of Aum, which now calls itself Aleph, have yet to confirm whether the woman in North Korea and the former cultist are one and the same.

Pyongyang has told Tokyo that a Japanese woman entered the North in August seeking asylum, the Foreign Ministry revealed Tuesday, confirming a report by the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The KCNA report, monitored in Tokyo, identified the woman as Kazumi Kitagawa.

The Aum members said the former cultist joined the group in Osaka in 1995, but officially withdrew from the group in October 2001. The group said she was a lay follower rather than a live-in follower.

“We have not contacted her since her withdrawal and have nothing to do with her attempt for asylum,” said an official of the cult.

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