Three of the 29 North Korean defectors arrested in China on July 15-17 are family members of senior military officers, and North Korea is urgently demanding their extradition, according to a source.
"The 29 defectors include family members of senior Army officers," the source in China said Thursday. "The North wants them handed over immediately."
A relative of one of the defectors told the Chosun Ilbo "It's true that the North has demanded their repatriation." The relative added they face certain death if they are deported.
The defectors left Chongjin and Musan, North Hamgyong Province or Hyesan, Ryanggang Province in June and July but were arrested with their helpers on an established defector trail to Southeast Asia.
Chinese police have already moved them to a holding center on the North Korean border and are denying outsiders access to them.