Gov’t to return 3 of 9 who defected

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Gov’t to return 3 of 9 who defected

The South Korean government plans to repatriate three of nine people who arrived at a South Korean port after crossing the Yellow Sea aboard a boat from China because it believes the three are ethnic Koreans living in China, and are not North Koreans.

According to the South Korea Coast Guard, nine North Koreans arrived at Gunsan, North Jeolla, late Thursday after crossing the Yellow Sea in a 20-ton boat that departed from Dalian, China, on Monday. Of the nine people, four are men and five are women.

They all expressed a desire to stay in South Korea, according to Korea Coast Guard investigators.

“Of the nine people, we confirmed a 51-year-old man, 37-year-old woman and 6-year-old girl were ethnic Koreans from a northeast province in China,” the Coast Guard said yesterday.

According to the Coast Guard, the three said during the investigation that “they have no relations with North Korean defectors and they boarded the boat through a broker to get a job in Korea.”

The South Korean government plans to deport the three ethnic Koreans to China for illegal entry at soon as possible.

The six North Koreans are being investigated by intelligence officials and the three ethnic Koreans are being investigated by immigration officials.

Pastor Kim Seong-eun of Caleb’s Mission, a church in South Korea that helps defectors, said in an interview with JoongAng Ilbo yesterday that the three people are, in fact, North Koreans.

Kim said the three people referred to as ethnic Koreans by the Korea Coast Guard are related: the man and woman are siblings and the girl is the woman’s daughter.

“Ever since the siblings escaped from North Korea about 10 years ago, they have been living in Tumen in China and have been helping other North Koreans defect,” Kim said. “The sister married an ethnic Korean man in China and has the daughter from that union.”

Kim said the South Korean government should at least summon and question him to clarify the three people’s nationality.

“If the government kicks the three people back to China, they would be deported back to North Korea and then they will be dead,” Kim said.

Ministry of Unification spokesman Chun Hae-sung said the North Korean government hasn’t made any response about the nine defectors.

Meanwhile, the ministry said on Sunday at 1 p.m., it will repatriate 27 North Koreans who drifted into South Korean waters in the Yellow Sea on Feb. 5.

Twenty seven out of 31 North Koreans expressed their wish to go back to their homeland and the North accused South Korean government of forcing the four to defect to South Korea.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]


Related Korean Article[중앙일보]

탈북 입국 9명 중 3명 중국 추방키로

군산해경 “조선족 밀입국자”

군산 해경은 24일 군산항으로 들어온 탈북주민 일행 중 3명을 조선족 밀입국자로 분류해 중국으로 추방하기로 했다.

군산해경은 “탈북자 일행 9명 가운데 남자 1명(51세), 여자 2명(37, 6세)은 중국 동북 3성 출신의 조선족으로 확인됐다”고 25일 밝혔다. 해경·경찰·국정원 합동심문 조사결과 이들은 지난 21일 중국 다롄(大連)에서 탈북자들과 함께 20t급 어선을 타고 출발했다. 이들은 조사과정에서 “탈북 주민들과는 아무런 관계가 없으며, 한국에서 취업할 목적으로 브로커의 소개를 받아 배를 탔다”고 진술했다.

관계당국은 이들 조선족을 밀입국자로 규정하고, 이른 시일 내 중국으로 추방하기로 방침을 정했다. 이들은 25일 전주 출입국관리사무소를 거쳐 청주 외국인보호소로 넘겨졌다.

하지만 탈북주민들의 입국을 도운 갈렙선교회 김성은 목사는 “이들 3명이 탈북자”라고 주장했다. 김 목사는 “이들은 남매로 10여 년 전 탈북해 중국 투먼(圖們) 인근에서 살면서 북한 주민들의 탈북을 도왔다”며 “여성은 조선족 남편과 결혼해 딸을 하나 뒀고 이번에 같이 입국한 것”이라고 말했다.

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