Published : 2013-03-21 19:49
Updated : 2013-03-21 19:49
China has released one of two South Korean activists who were detained early this month after helping North Korean defectors hide there, a Seoul government source said Thursday.
The two female activists were apprehended on March 9 in Yanji of China’s eastern Jilin province for allegedly helping North Koreans flee their totalitarian homeland.
“One of the two South Korean nationals was released yesterday,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.
On March 12, Rev. Kim Seung-eun of South Korea’s Caleb Mission church, which helps North Korean defectors, told Yonhap News Agency by telephone that the two activists and eight North Korean refugees were arrested by Chinese authorities and they would stand trial.
Kim said, “The eight North Korean defectors were sent to a prison in Tumen and are at risk of being deported to the North.”
Tens of thousands of North Korean defectors are believed to be hiding in China, hoping to travel to Thailand or other Southeast Asian countries before resettling in South Korea, which is presently home to more than 24,000 North Korean defectors.
North Korean defectors face harsh punishments and even execution after being repatriated from China, which does not recognize them as asylum-seekers, according to defectors in South Korea and human rights activists. (Yonhap News)