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7 Family Members who Escaped N K Ask to be Recognized as Refugees

7 Family Members who Escaped N K Ask to be Recognized as Refugees

Posted June. 26, 2001 19:54,   


7 family members of Kim Bong-Su, who escaped North Korea in January, 1999, have asked to be recognized as refugees and to be sent to Korea at the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Beijing.

The family, who had departed from Liaoning State’s Da Ryun City on 21st arriving in Beijing on 22nd and 23rd, entered into the UNHCR’s Beijing office without any obstruction, divided into two groups. The office is located at the second floor of the Tawian Diplomats Apartment.

After their arrival, the UNHCR office has stopped their contact with outside. It has been said that the office has already informed about the defectors to Chinese government.

The family consists of Mr. Kim and his wife, Chung Myung-Sook (43), daughter, Eun-Hee (17), son, Hyuk-Cheol (15), father in law, Chung Tae-Jun (67), mother in law, Kim Chun-Ok (66), and nephew, Jang Kil-Soo (17). Especially, the story of Kil-Soo Family was put on the weekly magazine `Newsweek` and was introduced to many media worldwide. The paintings of Kil-Soo that illustrate the situation of North Korea and their journey of escape were televised on British ch. 4 TV.

Originally, the number of family was 17, but 5 of them were caught by North Korean agency and was sent back to North Korea. However, one of five re-escaped the country and rejoined the family. Three out of them went to Mongolia and the rest 10 family members came to Beijing to appeal to international public sentiment. Nothing has been known about the remaining three family members who went to Mongolia.

Kim family has also contacted the RENK, a Japanese civilian organization to help North Korean defectors. And the Korean organization `Kil-Soo Family Rescue Movement Center` (KFRMC) also has been helping them since their departure from NK. The KFRMC visited the UNHCR office last September to ask the status of refugees for the family but it was rejected.

It has been known that some NK defectors came to the UNHCR’s Beijing office many times to appeal their situation. But the defectors could not accomplish their will since Chinese government, which thought of them as illegal border-transgressors, did not recognize them as refugees.

In the meantime, Korean government said, ``The defectors must be sent to places that they would like to settle based on humanitarianism. We will inform our opinion to China and the UNHCR and if the defectors seek political asylum in Korea, we will accept them.``

Lee Jong-Hwan ljhzip@donga.com