Beijing sends defectors back to Pyongyang despite outcry

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Beijing sends defectors back to Pyongyang despite outcry

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Park Sun-young

As always, the issue of North Korean defectors made for big news this year.

Despite South Korea’s plea to stop the repatriation of North Korean defectors, the Chinese chose to handle them their own way.

In February, China reportedly sent home nine captured refugees, stirring strong criticism from the international community. Returned defectors are typically sent to the North Korean prison camps, which are likened to gulags, and are often publicly executed.

Then-lawmaker Park Sun-young of then-minor opposition Liberty Forward Party claimed that three groups totaling 24 North Korean asylum seekers have been detained in China since early February.

Among them, nine defectors arrested in Yanji by the Chinese authorities were reportedly sent back to the North. China regards defectors as economic migrants and not as refugees.

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