News

    North Korean Defector Sees Signs of Chinese Policy Shift

    Protesters hold a poster during a rally by Now Action & Unity for North Korea Human Rights activists and North Korean defectors near the Chinese embassy in Seoul, FILE March 3, 2012.
    Protesters hold a poster during a rally by Now Action & Unity for North Korea Human Rights activists and North Korean defectors near the Chinese embassy in Seoul, FILE March 3, 2012.

    A research organization in Seoul says it is hopeful of better treatment for North Korean defectors in China following signs that the Chinese policy of forcing them to return home has eased.

    Kang Chul Hwan, a founding director of the North Korea Strategy Center in Seoul, spoke Wednesday about media reports that a family of five has been permitted to travel to South Korea after almost three years in a South Korean consulate in Beijing.

    South Korean government officials contacted by VOA confirmed the accuracy of the reports. Kung, who is himself a defector, said his group is still trying to obtain details about the Chinese action.

    "Some media have reported about the arrival of the North Korean defectors [in South Korea] but it is not confirmed at the private organization's level. But president Hu Jintao of China reacted positively to [South Korea's] president Lee Myung-bak's worries and requests about the repatriation of North Korean defectors," said Kang.

    But he noted that Chinese President Hu Jintao hinted at a policy shift during talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on the sidelines of last week's nuclear security summit in Seoul.

    Several reports speculate that China decided to let the defectors travel to the South as a way of signaling its displeasure at North Korea. Pyongyang has announced plans to launch a ballistic rocket later this month, unraveling months of carefully orchestrated diplomacy involving the United States and Beijing.

    The reports say the family of five, including the daughter and two grandchildren of a deceased South Korean soldier, arrived in Seoul on Sunday. It would be the first time North Koreans have been allowed to travel to the South from a diplomatic mission in China since Lee took office in Seoul five years ago.

    China normally insists on returning defectors to North Korea despite widespread international criticism of the policy. Human rights groups say the defectors and their families face harsh treatment and even death when they return to the North.

    Kang says this leads defectors to try to slip through China undetected and make their way to other Asian countries before declaring themselves.

    “North Korean defectors have gone directly  to [countries in] East Asia, not entering the [South Korean] embassy. Breaking this pattern can be a sign [from now on] that the Chinese government may immediately allow North Korean defectors to leave the country if they enter the South Korean embassy," said Kang. "This would be a serious blow for North Korea."

    He said if China now begins to permit defectors who enter the South Korean embassy in Beijing to travel to Seoul, that would be a serious blow to North Korea.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora