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

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs