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Swedish Court Blocks Deportation of Purported Korean Teen

  • Kim Yonho

FILE - Sweden has long prided itself on offering refuge to those fleeing oppression in other parts of the world. This asylum-seeker is shown walking outside the Bergby Gard hotel, which houses asylum-seekers, north of Stockholm, June 6, 2014.

FILE - Sweden has long prided itself on offering refuge to those fleeing oppression in other parts of the world. This asylum-seeker is shown walking outside the Bergby Gard hotel, which houses asylum-seekers, north of Stockholm, June 6, 2014.

A Swedish court has blocked the deportation of a teenager who claims he is from North Korea, the teenager’s lawyer said.

The 17-year-old with the pseudonym Han Song is seeking refugee status in Sweden although he does not have documents proving national origin. The Swedish immigration authority suspects that Han is a Chinese citizen of Korean descent and has been seeking to expatriate him to China.

Last week, the Migration Court of Sweden ordered the Migration Board to reinvestigate Han’s case, saying the immigration authority had mishandled the case.

The court found some of the questions used in the interview determining Han’s native language inappropriate. The court also ruled the immigration board had ignored that one of the language analysts who participated in the interview determined Han was from North Korea. In addition, the board failed to take into consideration that Han was a minor, the court said.

Han’s lawyer, Arido Degavro, said the immigration board would most likely grant him refugee status after the investigation was complete.

“The court has found that the previous conclusion is wrong. Therefore, it will be very strange if the immigration board comes to the same conclusion,” Degavro said in a phone interview with the VOA Korean service this week.

Han said he is from the town of Hoeryong in North Korea's North Hamgyong province. When he was 7, he said, his mother died of illness. Later, his father was imprisoned.

Since then, Han has lived as an orphan, begging for food. With the help of his father’s colleague, he said, he fled the country and met a broker who helped him reach Sweden. In March 2013, he crossed the North Korean border and walked a frozen river into China. He said he traveled to Russia and arrived in Sweden last year.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report.

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