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Report: No North Koreans Granted Refugee Status by U.S. in 2004

Report: No North Koreans Granted Refugee Status by U.S. in 2004

Posted October. 26, 2005 07:33,   


According to a report submitted to the U.S. Congress last week, the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security said that some states are against the U.S. policy of granting North Korean defectors refugee status, justifying why none of the North Koreans who sought refugee in America were granted refugee status in fiscal year 2004 (October 2004-September 2005).

The report marked the first anniversary (October 18) of the passage of North Korean human rights law.

According to four pages of the report Dong-A Ilbo obtained, the U.S. has reviewed 13 North Korean applications for refugee status since 2004, but none were approved. This year, no North Korea defector has applied for U.S. political refugee status.

This report explains that some states are opposed to granting North Korean defectors entry because they feel that once some are allowed in, many others will follow for economic reasons.

This report didn’t mention specific country names, but, “some states” seems to be referring to China on the grounds that most North Korean defectors are staying in China.

The report also mentioned that if North Korean defectors are granted refugee status under the North Korean Human Rights Law, it could cause political unrest in their country, and could break the subtle political balance in Northeast Asia.

The report didn’t mention whether the South Korean government’s stance, which has been negative about the North Korean Human Rights Law, influenced the report.

Regarding this, a U.S. Congress official said, “I can’t understand the fact that the Department of State was not active in undertaking the policy of granting refugee status to North Korean defectors because of the opposition from neighboring countries. The Department of State has been holding back active implementation of the North Korean human rights law this year, being mindful of the six-party talks.

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com