North Koreans flee to China because of severe food shortages and repression at home. But China classifies the North Koreans as economic migrants, not refugees, and has an agreement with Pyongyang to send them back home, where they face harsh punishment or death.
Kim Bum-su works for the Christian-affiliated Commission to Help North Korean refugees. He says helping North Koreans in China is an extremely dangerous undertaking.
"One of the most risky things to work in China is fear, not of Chinese authorities, but of North Korean [agents]," said Kim Bum-su.
Mr. Kim says many North Korean agents are active in China and that some ethnic Koreans in China cooperate with the agents to make money.
He says even among refugees in China, there is a high degree of suspicion.
"Some of them are North Korean agents themselves," he said. "They pretend to be refugees in order to infiltrate into the community."
[From an article by Kurt Achin, VoA]