August 05, 2016 08:26
China is rolling out fake North Korean defectors who then apply for asylum overseas and reap medical and other benefits from foreign governments. The ruse is another feather in the cap of China's burgeoning industry in fakes and knockoffs that covers everything from electronics to toxic frozen peas.
A source on Tuesday said there are a couple of private academies in Beijing's Wangjing district, which is home to a large ethnic Korean population, that help Chinese citizens fake documents to pose as North Korean defectors.
The main clients are ethnic Koreans from northeastern China who can speak the language. The academies teach them about North Korea and help them fabricate stories of their escape. If they succeed in gaining asylum overseas they can rake in hundreds of euros in monthly support from European governments and be eligible for other perks like medical insurance.
European governments used to be quite accommodating to people claiming to be North Korean defectors but screenings have become more stringent.
The source said the fake defectors are introduced to brokers who fabricate identity documents showing that they worked in coal mines or factories in North Korean prison camps. They are also coached on what questions are commonly asked by European officials.
But as these fake defectors are granted asylum in Europe, real defectors who are unable to produce identity documents are sometimes deported.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 1,100 North Korean defectors lived in 13 countries as of 2015. Another 230 were waiting for the results of their asylum application.
The U.K. had the most with 622, followed by France with 146, Canada with 126, Germany with 104, Belgium with 66 and the Netherlands with 59. Twenty-two had settled in the U.S.
A government source here said some Chinese citizens posing as North Korean defectors even come to South Korea. "The international community must try to filter out fake defectors so that real ones do not face unfair treatment," a spokesman for a human rights group said.
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