Q: Are North Korean refugees economic or political refugees?
A: They are both. Even if they started out as economic migrants, the fact that they face persecution if they return to North Korea makes them de facto political refugees. Everyone who leaves North Korea without permission becomes a political refugee.
Q: Has South Korea government policy…made work with North Korean refugees more difficult?
A: I have to be careful how I answer that question publicly. [Peters paused to allow the question to be translated into Korean.] There might be some indirect consequences.
The main pressure is the 2008 Olympics, which is causing the Chinese to try to "solve the North Korean refugee problem" before they take place. Chinese policy is to get [rid of] North Korean refugees like you get rid of cockroaches. They are using bounties and other strict methods to suppress refugees. Any negative influence from the South Korean government is comparatively marginal.
Published in Korean Liberator