Chinese police have arrested far more North Korean defectors than was previously known, Liberty Forward Party lawmaker Park Sun-young claimed Tuesday. Park has been vocal in recent days warning that China will repatriate the defectors.
In a telephone interview with the Chosun Ilbo, Park said a total of 34 North Korean defectors were arrested in six groups since early February, and some of them face being sent back to the repressive country.
She said the 19 were arrested on Feb. 8, five on Feb. 12, three on Feb. 13, four on Feb. 17, and three on Feb. 18. Intelligence reports say there are others, Park claimed, but she decided to delay disclosure because she had not confirmed the facts.
Asked where her information came from, Park cited "a reliable source who has access to Chinese police." She added, "Based on this information, I was able to confirm their arrests by checking with family members who are already in South Korea."
"I verified personal data of at least one member of each group of defectors who were arrested recently," she said. "I'm also trying to verify another piece of information I got on Monday that North Korean security forces raided the North Korean homes of the arrested defectors."
Park said it is clearly possible for a single lawmaker to obtain information about arrested defectors and their personal data through various channels, "but the Foreign Ministry only says, 'We haven't grasped the situation yet' whenever defectors are arrested in China." She called on the government to do more to find out the real situation of North Korean defectors in China by using intelligence networks, rather than merely watching the reaction of the Chinese government.
Park the same day started a hunger strike in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul in protest against China's attempt to repatriate the defectors.