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More North Koreans Enter South Korean Diplomatic Building in Beijing

Two North Koreans entered the South Korean embassy in Beijing, bringing to 23 the number of asylum seekers in Seoul's diplomatic offices in the Chinese capital.

A South Korean diplomat confirmed the two North Koreans, both women, came to the embassy main gate Friday night and told the guard they wished to see an official.

These are the only North Korean asylum seekers in the South Korean embassy. The other 21, including a pregnant woman, are in the South Korean visa office. China offered Friday to allow the pregnant woman to leave the country on humanitarian grounds.

Friday's arrivals are the latest in a string of asylum bids at diplomatic missions since March. Thousands of North Koreans have fled starvation and repression in their homeland and are hiding in China. Chinese authorities have allowed 38 North Korean asylum seekers to leave for South Korea via a third country.

But now Beijing is taking a hard-line approach with the North Korean refugees. It demands the South Koreans hand them over to Chinese police. South Korea refuses unless Beijing promises that the refugees will not be sent back to North Korea. A treaty with North Korea requires China to return migrants.

China is holding a North Korean in detention after guards forcibly removed him from South Korean consular premises last week. Two North Koreans also are in the Canadian embassy.

China is trying to stem the tide of asylum seekers by circling embassies with barbed wire and adding more police in the embassy district.