Twenty-nine North Korean defectors were caught by Chinese police and are on the brink of being repatriated to North Korea. Seoul has asked Beijing to release them but there has been no reply.
According to their families in South Korea, 10 of the defectors were caught by Chinese police while trying to board a bus in Shenyang around last Wednesday evening. They were on their way to join their families in South Korea. About half were male and half female, and the group included teenagers, the relatives said. They requested emergency relief from the National Human Rights Commission though an activist group.
"They seem to be from the same family and were caught near Liaoning Province," said Kim Yong-hwa of the North Korea Refugees Human Rights Association. "They are in a very dangerous situation because guards have been under instructions to kill all would-be defectors" since new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un came to power.
Another group of nine defectors were caught by Chinese authorities the same day. Five others defectors were arrested in Changchun on Sunday and another five in Dandong on Monday. All reportedly face deportation to the North.
Liberty Forward Party lawmaker Park Sun-young said, "I understand that China and North Korea agreed at security meetings Sunday and Monday to repatriate the defectors soon."