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N. Korean defectors trapped in China: JoongAng Ilbo

The JoongAng Ilbo reports that 11 North Korean defectors, including five family members of South Korean POWs taken during the Korean War, have been trapped in the South Korean consulate in Shenyang for close to three years. In fact, they’ve been kept virtual prisoner since they entered the consulate with the Chinese sealing the legation.

What’s more, the Chinese apparently offered to trade releasing the defectors for the 10 Chinese fishermen in jail in Korea on charges of killing a South Korean Coast Guard officer.

A high-ranking government source said the Chinese were refusing to screen the defectors for leaving the country in order to plant in the minds of defectors that if they enter a diplomatic compound, they won’t be able to go to South Korea and they’ll be stuck in there for years.

The source said the issue had been brought up during Sino-Korean summits, but the Chinese side was not showing sincerity. On Jan 9, President Lee Myung-bak, on visit to China, asked Chinese President Hu Jin-tao to allow the defectors to come to South Korea, and the Chinese side said it would first allow the three South Korean POW family members at Korea’s general consulate in Beijing to leave. The Chinese side began departure screenings, but stopped. A South Korean official said China began demanding through another government agency that the POW families be traded for the Chinese fishermen who were arrested for killing a South Korean Coast Guard officer while they were illegally fishing in the West Sea in December and the body of a Chinese sailor who died during an illegal fishing crackdown in December 2010 and whose remains have been left in a morgue for over a year.

In case we didn’t get it, the JoongAng rephrased it as a demand to trade defectors, who are no different from refugees, for Chinese sailors who are criminals.

Where’s former Aussie PM Kevin Rudd when you need a diplomatic statement?

A government official said China, which permitted North Korean defectors who entered South Korean legations to come to the South via third nations from the early 2000s, had completely changed its position from 2009.

In April of last year, China allowed two North Korean defectors with relatives in Japan who had been staying at the Japanese consulate in Shenyang for two years, 8 months to leave, but also got a memo from the Japanese Foreign Ministry saying their legations would no longer accept North Korean defectors.

The government believes the tightening of the Chinese policy on defectors has to do with long-term Chinese policy in regards to Korea. It is said in May 2009, when international pressure on North Korea was growing due to the North’s second nuclear test and talk was made of a North Korean collapse, China decided during a meeting of the heads of overseas mission heads that blocking a North Korean collapse was in China’s interest. Instead, talk of pressuring the North to reform and open itself was quieted down. The next year, China recognized the succession of Kim Jong-un when his dad visited China in May, and openly took North Korea’s side in the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong-do incidents. It’s even got one foot out of international cooperation over the North Korean nuclear issue. Seoul believes the Chinese hard line against allowing defectors to leave, which could lead to a North Korean collapse, is along these lines, too.

The result was a demand by the Korean government Sunday for China to comply with international laws on refugees. To which China responded in its usual manner.

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  • http://www.cfekorea.com nayaCasey

    1) I wonder if Susan Sontag ever called North Korea a “cancer on the Earth.”
    2) I guess appealing to China and North Korea on humanitarian grounds makes sense to some. Like politely asking Kentucky Fried Chicken to stop killing chickens.
    3) When I am president of South Korea or the United States, I will stop sending free rice or other humanitarian aid to North Korea. Instead, I will offer them $1,000 per person they set free. Everyone is a criminal in North Korea so let them choose who to let go. South Korean government and private organizations sent almost $18 million in aid to North Korea last year. If my figurin’ is right, Jethro, that would be almost 18,000 people.
    4) Of course, I do realize the downside of that policy would be articles in the American and South Korean press about North Koreans struggling with adapting to living outside of North Korea.

  • http://vmphotography.com.au hoju_saram

    Of course, I do realize the downside of that policy would be articles in the American and South Korean press about North Koreans struggling with adapting to living outside of North Korea.

    The other downside is that they would all be criminals, the old, the infirm and the weak. Not exactly the sort of human capital you want to purchase for $1000 a head.

    I really, really hope that American remains top dog in Asia, at least for the remainder of my lifetime and my children’s. Imagine the CCP running the region.

  • http://www.cfekorea.com nayaCasey

    Hoju #2 wrote: The other downside is that they would all be criminals, the old, the infirm and the weak. Not exactly the sort of human capital you want to purchase for $1000 a head.

    Hoju, I hope we don’t divert the topic too much from the main points about NK defectors/refugees being trapped in China. Just to respond:

    1) I chose $1,000 for the criminals and others because of the alleged going rate for North Koreans, according to a writer in the Korea Times.

    According to Choi Yearn-hong: “Brokers have connections with the local communist party chiefs. They have networks for selling North Korean women, young and old, with different price tags. Young women in their 20s are sold for $5,000; old women in their 30s are sold for $3,000.”

    2) On a side note: “Old women in their 30s.” Old women in their 30s”? Okay, I will try not to get distracted by that line from the author.

    3) Governments waste plenty of money on other stuff, Solyndra, welfare, paying farmers not to farm, food stamps, etc. As El Presidente of either South Korea or the U.S., I’d be quite fine with purchasing even criminals, old, infirm, the weak from North Korea at $1,000 per person. “Criminal” is probably a relative term in North Korea and allowing the old, infirm and weak to live in freedom for even a few years would be fine with me. I would, of course, double the offer per person if they’d take North Korean sympathizers who are now in South Korea in exchange.

    And, of course, I’d send them back if they got on welfare or showed up expecting handouts.

    4) Anyway, NK would never go for it, even the people who say they’d like to see North Koreans free will use their superior intellect to pick apart the proposal rather than suggesting something else better.

    Back to the main point: It doesn’t make sense to talk to NK and China about freeing people in terms of humanitarian reasons.

  • jk6411

    I really, really hope that American remains top dog in Asia, at least for the remainder of my lifetime and my children’s. Imagine the CCP running the region.

    Hear, Hear!

  • R. Elgin

    No FTA with these pigs, ever.

  • cm

    “In case we didn’t get it, the JoongAng rephrased it as a demand to trade defectors, who are no different from refugees, for Chinese sailors who are criminals.”

    Those defectors are not just defectors, they are South Korean POW’s from the Korean War and their family. They served South Korea with their lives, and they should have been repatriated under the Armistice agreement after the war. But the dishonest North Korea with full knowledge from the Chinese, secretly held them. As for those Chinese sailors, they are common murderers who killed a national civil servant of S.Korea. What nerve of them to even think of trading for these dogs and rats, and it only illustrates well how the Chinese government thinks about all the killing and looting their boats are doing – not very seriously and as if they own those waters.

    But as much as distasteful this would be, I think this may not be a bad ideal by not letting the murdered officer’s death to waste, if it means saving the lives of other South Koreans who have sacrificed for their country. In fact, how about instead of just arresting, fining, and releasing those Chinese pirates, trade them in for North Korean defectors?

    Actor Cha In Pyo protesting in front of Chinese embassy, appealing to the Chinese people to stop their government from deporting dozens of North Korean defectors who have been caught this year, and who are awaiting deportation.

    http://www.dailynk.com/english/read.php?cataId=nk00100&num=8849

    http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/news_Po_detail.htm?No=88369&id=Po

  • cm

    “No FTA with these pigs, ever.”

    Even the craziest leftists don’t support this crazy ideal of FTA with China. Let’s just say it’s just lip service to appease China.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I’d say that might be a good idea, cm, except in this case, where the fish pirates in question—or at least one of them—participated in the murder of a Korean law enforcement agent. I don’t think it’s a good policy to offer murderers in return for something China should be doing anyway.

  • eujin

    West Germany used to buy political prisoners and their families from East Germany. About 30,000 by the time the wall fell, but the price was a bit more than $1,000, around $50,000 per person. A tidy little currency earner for the GDR, $1.5 billion or so.

  • redwhitedude

    The only way to get china to behave is to have a united front pressuring china. Unfortunately that never happens.

    Offer them illegals who are overstaying their welcome in Korea.

  • http://dok.do/4aVK41 Year of the Dragon

    Those rat f**kers!

    Where’s former Aussie PM Kevin Rudd when you need a diplomatic statement?

    he busy – cursing the Chinese ratf***ers here – http://tiny.cc/knvko

  • redwhitedude

    Chinese don’t treat their own properly so what is the point of expecting them to treat others in a humane fashion.