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“No Ban on Travel by North Korean Defectors”

Posted December. 05, 2004 23:07,   


The Korean government has decided not to impose a ban on overseas travel for some 5,730 North Korean defectors who are not subject to special watch. Seventy-one out of some 5,800 North Koreans who have come to South Korea are under special watch.

Minister of Unification Chung Dong-young presided over a meeting of the NSC Standing Committee on Dec. 4 and said, “There is a potential for human rights violation in case the government imposes a broad ban on travel on ordinary North Korean defectors without any specific reasons.”

However, the government has decided to strengthen control over 71 North Koreans including former major public officials, spy agents and brokers of illegal immigration, limiting passport issuance and stepping up a closer watch by police officers.

Meanwhile, it is reported that 2,307 or 51.5 percent of the 4,477 North Korean asylum-seekers who went to South Korea until June this year since 1995 stated “economic problems” as the reason for fleeing the North.

An analysis released by the Ministry of Unification on Dec. 5 says that more than 50 percent of North Korean defectors fled their homeland to seek livelihood, showing that a relatively small number of North Koreans sought asylum for political reasons. For example, △465 people or 10.3 percent of total defectors fled the country for worries over punishment from the North authorities, and △446 or 9.9 percent for complaints with the country’s system.