An 81-year-old South Korean prisoner of war who was arrested by Chinese police after fleeing North Korea in mid-August is in danger of being forced back to the North, it was reported Thursday.
Choi Sung-yong, the president of activist group Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea said the man fled the North on Aug. 16, but was arrested by Chinese police on Aug. 24. He has been held at a hospital in Yanji since Aug. 26.
"Despite the government's efforts, he has been in detention for more than two months, and it seems highly likely that he will be sent back to the North," Choi said. "We hope the government will make more efforts since POWs are without doubt South Korean citizens."
It was not known how the man fled the North and how he was arrested.
Since August and with the approach of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic, the Chinese government has arrested and forced back scores of North Korean refugees in a nationwide dragnet of inspections and searches.
As of Thursday, a total of 463 North Korean refugees except POWs or South Korean citizens kidnapped by the North were holed up in South Korean overseas missions. According to data from the Defense Ministry, 79 POWs and 182 members of their families have arrived in South Korea since 1994. The government presumes that about 560 POWs are still alive in the North.