Nine of 24 North Korean defectors who were arrested in China are being taken to Tumen along the North Korea-China border, suggesting they are about to be repatriated, Liberty Forward Party lawmaker Park Sun-young said Thursday. Park added the 15 others in Shenyang and Changchun are also about to be sent back to the North on Saturday.
According to Park, the 24 were arrested in three groups -- 10 and nine arrested on Feb. 8, and five two days later. Chinese and North Korean security officials met twice on Sunday and Monday to discuss how to deal with them and agreed to send them back, she said.
The 10 were caught at a bus terminal in Shenyang, and South Korean aid groups faxed an urgent plea to South Korea's National Human Rights Commission asking for help on their behalf.
Different South Korean activist groups supporting defectors have given conflicting numbers for defectors facing repatriation, and there is also confusion over their exact whereabouts. The government recently asked Beijing whether it is holding North Korean defectors or not, but China has apparently not responded so far.