Here is something unexpected from the South Korean government, actually speaking up for North Korean refugees:
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye warned North Korea on Monday that it would be held responsible for the safety of nine young asylum seekers forcibly repatriated after their capture in Laos.
“What’s most important is to ensure (their) lives and safety, and that they will not receive unfair punishment,” Park told a meeting of senior aides.
“Otherwise, North Korea cannot avoid international criticism and responsibility for their human rights,” she said.
The case of the nine escapees has garnered international attention, partly because of their youth and reports suggesting they are all orphans.
Confirming their arrest on May 10 for illegal entry, the Lao foreign ministry said Monday that all nine were aged between 14-18.
Two South Korean nationals were detained at the same time for alleged human trafficking and handed over to the South Korean embassy, a ministry statement said.
The nine were returned to China on May 27 and then flown back to Pyongyang the next day. (…..)
Describing the repatriation as a “very regrettable incident that should have never happened”, Park said her government would seek to ensure that “major defection routes” used by North Korean refugees remain open. [Channel News Asia]
I cannot think of time when anyone in the South Korean government has spoken this bluntly in support of North Korean refugees? It appears that President Park is going to be someone who is going to push the North Korean human rights issue which has been largely ignored in past years. It is going to be interesting to see how the Kim regime responds to this because like with the Kaesong Industrial Complex issue President Park is putting the regime back on the defensive.