South Korea Detains Boat with Suspected North Korean Defectors: Recent Developments


According to Seoul’s military, a small watercraft transporting suspected North Korean defectors has been detained after crossing into South Korean waters. It was discovered on the South Korean side of the Northern Limit Line, the maritime dividing line between the two Koreas. The Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that the four passengers were “presumed to have defected” from North Korea.

Since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un assumed control in 2011, defections have become increasingly difficult. Since the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, border controls have also been strengthened. The South Korean government did not disclose any additional information regarding the four North Koreans aboard the wooden craft.

In May, nine North Koreans on a fishing craft crossed the western sea boundary and were rescued by the coast guard. Typically, would-be defectors are detained and questioned for up to a month to determine their reasons for fleeing the North.

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Challenges in Seeking Refuge and Forcible Returns

The refugees are then transferred to Hanawon, a resettlement center that prepares them for life in South Korea. This month, Seoul reported that Beijing forcibly returned a “large number” of North Korean defectors. Approximately 600 North Koreans, according to human rights organizations, have been sent back to the North, where they face imprisonment, sexual violence, or even murder.

China does not recognize defectors from North Korea as exiles. It asserts that they are “economic migrants” and has a policy of sending them back, despite requests from foreign governments and human rights organizations that it reconsider its position.


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Source: Yahoo News

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