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More North Korean Defectors Leaving South Korea for U.S.

More North Korean Defectors Leaving South Korea for U.S.

Posted September. 26, 2005 06:15,   


It was found that 57 North Korean defectors who settled in South Korea after fleeing the North didn’t return to Korea since going abroad for trips. In addition, 34 new residents were found to have emigrated since the 1970s.

The above matter was released in a document for the inspection of the administration submitted by the Ministry of Unification (MOU) to Grand National Party lawmaker Kim Moon-soo. It is the first time that the present condition of defectors living abroad long term, and the emigration of new residents, has been made public.

The document found that many of the 57 new residents who failed to return to Korea went to China and the U.S. for tours, visiting relatives, and preaching gospel. The MOU didn’t made public any personal information about these people.

An official of the MOU said, “There are many new residents who haven’t come back to Korea after the North Korean Human Rights Act came into effect last October in the U.S.”

The North Korean Human Rights Act mandates the nomination of a special envoy for North Korean human rights and an annual fund of $24 million to improve the condition of human rights in North Korea by 2008. Of this fund, $20 million should be used to improve the human rights of new residents or groups helping defectors under the North Korean Human Rights Act.

After the above was made known, some of new residents are reportedly illegally staying in countries neighboring the U.S., such as Canada or Mexico, to go into exile in the U.S.

In fact, so far, a total of 10 new residents have applied for asylum to the U.S. and dozens of new residents were arrested after trying to sneak across the U.S. border.

However, no one has been granted asylum from the U.S. because the North Korean Human Rights Act excludes those who fled the North and settled in South Korea from the list of people who are eligible for support or relief.

It can be said that the reason why more residents are seeking asylum in the U.S. is because support from the government doesn’t live up to their expectations. Last December, the government reduced the support money for new residents from 36 million won to 20 million won for one person and from 45.5 million won to 29 million won for two people. “Our organization confirmed that there are around 20 people who have voluntarily went back to North Korea,” said Do Hee-yoon, head of the Seoul-based Civil Coalition for Human Rights of the Kidnapped and Defectors from North Korea.

Jae-Myoung Lee egija@donga.com