Shenyang: China arrested 14 North Koreans in
one of its northeastern border areas last month, sources said
on Thursday, as Beijing and Pyongyang intensified their crackdown
on North Korean defectors.
The number of North Koreans fleeing their impoverished
communist country has been on the rise in recent years amid
chronic food shortages and harsh political oppression.
Tens of thousands of North Korean defectors are
believed to be hiding in China, a major land route through
which many North Koreans travel to Thailand and other
Southeast Asian countries before resettling in South Korea.
China repatriates North Korean defectors back to their
homeland where they could face harsh punishment and even
execution, calling them "economic migrants," not refugees.
Chinese police apprehended the 14 North Koreans in
Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture near the border with
North Korea late last month, the sources in Yanbian said,
A local newspaper in Yanbian also carried a similar
report, saying the North Koreans had been hiding in a house.
The news of the arrests came a day after a North
Korean family of nine, including four children, successfully
sailed their boat into South Korean waters across the tense
western sea border.
The North`s state media has not yet mentioned the
latest defection; South Korea is now home to more than 21,000
North Korean defectors.