In the News – China allows N. Koreans to leave for Seoul: reports

Aside

In the News – China allows N. Koreans to leave for Seoul: reports

Seoul, May 18, 2012 (AFP) – China has allowed six North Korean refugees to leave for South Korea after they spent months holed up in Seoul’s consular offices in China, news reports said Friday.

Following their departure last week there are no more North Koreans left at South Korean diplomatic missions in China, the Korea JoongAng Daily and the Seoul Shinmun Daily said.

A South Korean foreign ministry spokeswoman declined to comment.

Beijing allowed the six defectors, who had been holed up at the South Korean missions in Shenyang and Shanghai for many months, to travel to the South through a third country, the dailies said, quoting sources.

China’s decision to let the defectors leave was apparently made as a goodwill gesture before a meeting between South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao, the Korea JoongAng Daily said.

Lee met Hu on Monday in Beijing following an annual trilateral summit with China and Japan.

The six included two relatives of a South Korean prisoner of war, captured by the North during the 1950-53 Korean War. Of the remaining four, two were identified as men and two as women, the reports said.

China last month reportedly allowed another five North Korean defectors to leave for South Korea after they were confined to Seoul’s Beijing embassy to avoid arrest. Some spent months there but others spent years.

China arrests and repatriates fugitives from North Korea, considering them to be economic migrants rather than potential refugees.

South Korea and international rights groups have urged it to change the policy, saying returnees can face harsh punishment.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans have fled poverty or repression in their homeland, almost all of them across the border to China.

Some hide out among — or marry into — the ethnic Korean community in China’s northeast. Others try to travel on to Southeast Asian nations before flying to Seoul.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Family of S.Korean POW Come to Seoul

Aside

In the News – Family of S.Korean POW Come to Seoul

Six North Korean defectors including the daughter and granddaughter of a South Korean prisoner of war arrived in Seoul last week, it was confirmed Wednesday. According to a diplomatic source here said the two women were among six defectors who had been hiding in South Korean diplomatic missions in Shenyang and Shanghai and were finally let go by the Chinese government.

The four women and two men are in relatively good health and are being questioned, the source added.

There are now no defectors left in South Korea’s diplomatic missions in China.

One defector who arrived in the South last month along with the family of another South Korean POW was a seven-year-old girl, who was reunited with relatives who had defected to the South earlier. The three-member family had been hiding in South Korea’s Embassy in Beijing for almost three years.

Beijing’s decision to send the 10 defectors to the South appears to have been affected by growing international attention on the plight of the North Koreans hiding out in China.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Clinton says U.S. willing to work with North Korea if it reforms

Aside

In the News – Clinton says U.S. willing to work with North Korea if it reforms

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) gestures as she speaks next to China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan at the joint statement reading for the closing of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing May 4, 2012. Clinton told Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday that relations between their two countries were the strongest they had ever been, even as the two countries are engaged in a spat over China's treatment of a blind dissident. REUTERS-Jason Lee

By Andrew Quinn

BEIJING | Fri May 4, 2012 9:01am EDT

(Reuters) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that the United States was willing to work withNorth Korea if it changed its ways, and also said more pressure should be brought to bear on Sudan and Syria.

Speaking in Beijing at the end of two-days of high-level meetings overshadowed by a crisis over a Chinese dissident who had sought refuge at the U.S. embassy, Clinton sought to underscore that Washington and Beijing could still work together on key international issues.

“We see two nations that are now thoroughly and inescapably interdependent,” Clinton said in prepared remarks in the closed door meeting.

On North Korea, where the United States wants China to put more pressure on the isolated nation’s leadership to reign in its nuclear ambitions, Clinton said Washington was still willing to work with Pyongyang if it changes its ways.

“The new leadership in Pyongyang still has the opportunity to change course and put their people first. If they focus on honoring their commitments and rejoining the international community, and on feeding and educating their citizens, the United States will welcome them and work with them,” she said. Continue reading

Love Across Borders

Have you ever fallen in love? Not the kind where you want to be with someone every minute of the day, but the kind where you would wait for that person every minute of the day. Perhaps, people experience these feelings more often as they move farther apart chasing after dreams or journeying in search of themselves in the transnational world we inhabit. But Pham Ngoc Canh, a man from Vietnam, had fallen in love with a woman he had met when he had studied chemistry as a university student. As Mr. Canh reminisces about his sweetheart, he recalls that he first caught a glimpse of her through a laboratory door. Even in that moment, he had wished to marry her, but something beyond his control kept them from being together for thirty years.

  Continue reading

In the News – Protests for N.Korean Defectors Sent Powerful Signal

Aside

In the News – Protests for N.Korean Defectors Sent Powerful Signal

Protests across the street from the Chinese Embassy in Seoul that began in February against Beijing’s forced repatriation of North Korean defectors came to an end on Monday. It had been 77 days since the protests began with a press conference by conservative Liberty Forward Party lawmaker Park Sun-young on Feb. 13 calling on Beijing to stop the repatriation of 24 North Korean defectors who were caught hiding in China.

Residents of the neighborhood complained about inconvenience as the demonstrations dragged on, and police and the Jongno District Office also requested that they end.

At first, the protests did not gain much attention. Then on Feb. 21 Park began a hunger strike and actor Cha In-pyo showed up with around 50 teenage North Korean defectors, drawing widespread attention to the demonstrations. Lee Ae-ran, the first North Korean defector to earn a PhD in South Korea, took the baton from Park and carried on the hunger strike, followed by other prominent officials. Continue reading

In the News – Presidential aide urges efforts to save N. Korean defectors in China

Aside

In the News – Presidential aide urges efforts to save N. Korean defectors in China

SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) — A special aide to the South Korean president on Tuesday urged active efforts by the government to assist dozens of North Korean defectors in China who await deportation back to their communist homeland where they are likely to face harsh punishment.

Hyun In-taek, a special presidential aide for unification, also called for the early passage of a North Korean human rights act currently awaiting a vote by the country’s parliament.

“There need to be active measures (to save North Korean defectors) when these defectors may face severe punishment, including execution, should they be sent back to North Korea,” he said in a special lecture to the National Unification Advisory Council. Continue reading

In the News – China Urged to Change Course on N. Korean Defectors

Aside

In the News – China Urged to Change Course on N. Korean Defectors

Photo: AP A North Korean defector holds a banner during a rally for North Korean refugees who were repatriated by the Chinese government, in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. (2011 File)

China is facing growing calls to stop the repatriation of dozens of North Koreans who recently fled into China and are being held by authorities. China says it has the right to send them back, calling them “economic migrants.”  But human rights activists say the detainees could face torture and execution, if they are returned to North Korea.

U.S. lawmakers held a hearing on Monday to highlight the urgency of the situation.

Representative Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey and head of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said that in recent weeks Chinese authorities have detained dozens of North Koreans who have fled to China. Continue reading

In the News – 150,000 Sign Global Petition for N.Koreans in China

Aside

In the News – 150,000 Sign Global Petition for N.Koreans in China

A child holds a picket sign against Chinas repatriation of North Korean defectors in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul on Monday.

A child holds a picket sign against Chinas repatriation of North Korean defectors in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul on Monday.

Some 153,000 people have signed a worldwide online petition to stop China repatriating a group of North Korean defectors who were arrested there. The petition started on a website called www.change.org on Feb. 12 and has now drawn signatures from people from 100 countries, including South Korea, the U.S., Japan, Taiwan, Russia and even China itself.

Anyone can launch an online petition drive at change.org or find one or take part in an existing signature drive. The website www.savemyfriend.org opens straight to the online petition.

Staff at savemyfriend.org said they confirmed that people from around 100 countries accessed the website and left their signatures. “We delivered the petition” then containing about 147,000 signatures, “to the Japanese and U.S. embassies in South Korea.”

“We initially targeted 200,000 signatures but now aim to draw 1 million three weeks from now and send them to the heads of each country and to the UN Human Rights Council.”

Original article can be found here