News / Asia

    Park Calls Forced Return of North Koreans 'Truly Regrettable'

    In this May 29, 2013 photo, South Korean protesters stage a rally urging China to stop repatriating North Korean defectors in front of the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea.
    In this May 29, 2013 photo, South Korean protesters stage a rally urging China to stop repatriating North Korean defectors in front of the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea.
    South Korea's president is calling for Pyongyang to guarantee the safety of a group of young North Korean refugees who were forcibly repatriated with the apparent cooperation of Laos, China and North Korea.

    The nine North Koreans, ranging in age between 15 and 23, had been in hiding in China after fleeing their country in 2011.

    They were detained on May 10 in Laos, where they were making plans to get to South Korea as refugees.

    The Laotian government sent the group back to China on May 27. They were flown to North Korea the following day.

    The Laotian foreign ministry issued a statement Monday saying the North Koreans had entered Laos illegally and were accompanied by two South Koreans “who have committed human trafficking.” It confirmed handing the 11 Koreans to their respective embassies last week.

    South Korea's President Park Geun-hye speaks to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, March 2013. (File photo).South Korea's President Park Geun-hye speaks to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, March 2013. (File photo).
    x
    South Korea's President Park Geun-hye speaks to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, March 2013. (File photo).
    South Korea's President Park Geun-hye speaks to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, March 2013. (File photo).
    South Korean President Park Geun-hye expressed concern about the North Koreans, calling their forced return a “truly regrettable incident that should have never happened."

    “All people have the right to enjoy freedom from the time they are born and that right should never be deprived or infringed upon,” Park said.

    The United Nations has also expressed strong concerns about the fate of the North Koreans.

    President Park said her government is not looking at this as merely a diplomatic issue with Laos, but a global human rights issue.

    Her own foreign ministry is facing criticism that it was unable to help the North Koreans, despite being aware of their arrests in Laos.

    Southeast Asia is frequently a transit route for North Koreans who have escaped their country by crossing into China and intending to resettle in South Korea.

    South Korean government officials say the issue of forced repatriations by the Chinese will be raised when President Park makes a state visit to Beijing, later this month.

    Steve Herman

    Steve Herman is VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department.

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    Carry-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society, so here's the deal with pizza, Chinese food and what racism has to do with taking food to go

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Jae Beom Kim
    June 05, 2013 11:38 PM
    Dear my fellow Americans and people of the world. This is the result of HUMAN TRAFFICKING by SOUTH Korea. Some religious organization and individuals are either paying or sponsoring sizable number of people who bring North Koreans into South Korea. They either use money, religious tactics to lure innocent North Koreans and this is the case that shows that their target is not just mostly women, but children!!!

    They really don't care that most North Koreans are having a hard time in South Korea, and their suicide is rate is much higher than already worlds' #1 suicidal nation. Apparently South Korea government is not doing anything about it. ts time that international community investigate and act on this issue. And of course Suzanne Scholte of DFF and US politicians are behind this. International community should really do something about this.

    by: Bill Ross from: Delray Beach, FL
    June 04, 2013 9:15 AM
    Communist countries have little concern for individuals.

    by: AliOfTheAllies from: United States
    June 03, 2013 8:19 AM
    Upon reading that North Korean refugees had been forced to return to N. Korea, tears immediately began to well up in my eyes. With great sadness, I acknowledged the fact that by being sent back to North Korea, they were all most likely sent to meet their torturous and vastly inhumane deaths. Beaten, burnt, drowned, stripped of their dignity and of any and all human rights. I doubt they have eaten or drank anything since their return. I weep for those 9 innocents who simply wished to live humanly but were instead, forced to return to where evil ebbs and flows through the land.
    In Response

    by: LMB from: Ocala, Fl
    June 04, 2013 3:27 AM
    I will not fully understand why Life as it is on Earth today is as it wasn't meant to be....this is not the way the Lord wanted Life to be but Life to be great is what the Lord wanted. It is North Korea that should make Americans happy that they are an "AMERICAN" and from the most Beautiful Country in the World > AMERICA!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora