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China Repatriates Seven North Korean Defectors

Posted October. 11, 2005 03:02,   


It was reported on October 10 that China repatriated all seven North Korean defectors who had entered an international Korean school in Yentai, China and demanded to be sent to South Korea.

It is first time ever that China repatriated North Korean refugees who entered an international school on its territory.

The South Korean government strongly protested the move and asked them not to let it happen again. As the issue appears to be related to the China’s North Korean defector policy in the future, chances are that it could lead to a diplomatic conflict between South Korea and China.

An official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said, “Chinese authorities confirmed on October 6 that on September 29 they repatriated all seven North Korean defectors who entered an international Korean school on August 29.”

Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said, “It is very shocking,” with regard to this in the National Assembly inspection of the Unification, Foreign Affairs, and Trade Committee that day.

On October 7, the day after the ministry confirmed that China sent the refugees back to the North, Yoo Myung-hwan, first vice foreign minister, called in Ning Fukui, the Chinese Ambassador to Korea, to express regret and lodge a formal protest.

Kim Ha-joong, the Korean ambassador to China, met with Shen Guofang, China’s assistant foreign minister, on October 8 to convey South Korea’s government policy.

As an international school does not have extraterritoriality by international law, the Chinese government can exercise power over the school.

The repatriated North Koreans were two men and five women, including a family of four. They had entered an international Korean school in Yentai around noon on August 29 and asked to be sent to South Korea, but were arrested by Chinese authorities in the afternoon.

Jong-Koo Yoon jkmas@donga.com