September 25, 2009 10:07
Nine North Korean refugees sought shelter at the Danish Embassy in Vietnam on Thursday morning. They had arrived in Vietnam on early morning of Sept. 14 via China. They are reportedly asking the embassy to send them to Seoul.
Originally, 14 fled from North Korea and arrived at the China-Vietnam border together, but Chinese police arrested five of them near the border on Sept. 18.
A local source said the five are in danger of being sent back to the North. Among them are a six-year-old boy and his mother.
The Danish Embassy is reportedly reluctant to shelter the nine North Koreans or send them to South Korea due to diplomatic considerations. The refugees include a married couple, a mother and her daughter, two women in their 40s and 20s, a teenage girl, and a 20-something man.
The refugees reportedly knocked at the doors of the Australian, Swedish and Philippine embassies in Hanoi. When there was no answer, they went into the Danish Embassy, where security was relatively loose.
The source said Vietnamese police officers guarding the embassy did not deter them as they took them for tourists.
"With an increasing number of North Korean defectors arriving in South Korea via China and Southeast Asian nations recently, the countries that maintain ties with the North as well as China are stepping up crackdowns," a knowledgeable source said. "It seems that the North Korean defectors entered the embassy because they had failed to find another appropriate escape route."
A South Korean government official said, "We're trying to find out what happened. We'll try to guarantee their safety."
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