Friday, February 24, 2012

More on China's Forced Repatriation of North Korean Defectors

Here are some more tidbits on the North Korean defectors front.

- Graduates of Yeomyung School, a South Korean charter school for North Korean defector children, created the most successful online petition to date. At, a petition to the officials of the United Nations, European Union and the United States has garnered more than 127,000 signatures so far. Please take your time to sign the petition, and share them on your Facebook and Twitter. It will only take a minute.

Cha In-Pyo (center) protesting in front of the Chinese embassy.
- Backed by the Save My Friend movement, superstar actor Cha In-Pyo and other celebrities organized two protests in front of the Chinese embassy in Seoul, on the 18th and on the 21st. National Assemblywoman Park Seon-Yeong has been holding a hunger strike in front of the Chinese embassy since the 21st as well; she plans to continue until China announces that it will treat North Korean defectors as refugees. There are also candle light vigils being held in various cities of Korea.

- The Chinese government is stonewalling. There are reports that nine of the 28 North Korean defectors were already repatriated, although other reports say they are still in China. The Chinese government has refused to verify the whereabouts of those defectors. In a regular briefing held on the 24th, Chinese government official only repeated that China has been handling the issue "in accordance with domestic law, international law and humanitarian principles." When asked which humanitarian principles were followed when China previously repatriated North Korean defectors, the spokesman only repeated that China has been keeping with the principles.

- Korean government is considering what may end up being an extremely helpful measure: issuing temporary South Korean travel certificate to any North Korean defector in China. With the travel certificate, even if the defector is arrested by Chinese police, s/he can credibly claim that s/he is a South Korean citizen. Even if the claim is less than completely credible, it may provide enough cover for the Chinese police to receive bribes and let the defector go. (Apparently, right now the going price is 100,000 yuan per person -- approximately $16,000.)

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  1. Thanks for this write-up, it's been hard for me to track down exactly what's been going on. Signing the petition and sharing this link far and wide.

  2. If you live in the United States, sign this petition to President Obama:

  3. Naive question: Can't the government of South Korea claim them as its own, issue them passports by presidential decree or something similar and have them delivered to South Korea instead? I am guessing since they're clandestinely in China they don't have identification, so it might give China a way out of this mess too?

    1. You're absolutely right. Even though China is a member nation of both the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, it refuses to recognize North Korean defectors as refugees. So there is nothing the South Korean gov't can do. The US was unable to persuade (force) the Chinese to stop devaluing their currency. I honestly don't think China would listen to the South Korean gov't's plea to stop the repatriation.

    2. Yes but my point is that if they're issued South Korean identification, they still are in China illegally but instead of being handed to the north China will have to free them to south Korea. Right? Of course China doesn't care much for the refugees, because it didn't bust them itself. Only when they were ratted out by the North Korean spies when China was forced to act on the information it was given. I guess if it were offered a legal and diplomatic way out it would take it, squeeze something in counterpart in the process of course, but it would chose appeasement rather than confrontation. Just saying.

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  5. It's impossible. Even if the South Korean goverment try to stop the repatriation or issued their identification, China doesn't want to listen to that. And they will only repeat that China has been keeping with the principles. Because the South Korea doesn't have the power. And it's not only their problems! We all have to take care of them.

  6. Since the South Korean birthrate is declining, is it possible that adopting student defectors stands to stabilize the southern population? Or is the decline an improvement for the sake of resources, natural and manmade.
    Just curious because the US birthrate is the lowest since the "baby boomer"phenomenon ended. And since we complain about future resource burdens, seems it'd be better if a few million (times X) gone , we might alleviate our fiscal problems. JUST WONDERING


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