North Korean refugees face forced repatriation to North Korea, where they face imprisonment and/or the death penalty. This news article highlights a recent near miss for refugees caught in Laos:
In early June, Communist authorities in Laos arrested 10 North Korean refugees along with two South Korean activists as they attempted to reach safety in Thailand. After almost two weeks of negotiations, including a ransom payment to officials, the refugees were released to South Korean embassy officials on Saturday, June 10.
Aside from a few “show” churches in Pyongyang, the practice of Christianity is outlawed in North Korea, yet the Rev. Tim Peters of Helping Hands Korea said there are an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 Christians North Korea.
Leaving North Korea without official permission is a serious offense, and numerous activists have developed an “underground railroad” that smuggles North Korean refugees out of China (where they are often deported if caught) and transports them to South Korea or other countries where they seek asylum.
[Excerpt from Compass Direct]
Background on this article, as provided by Tim Peters:
On behalf of all activists who persevered for almost two weeks during a rollercoaster drama that saw 10 North Korean refugees endure two separate imprisonments in Laos, a ransom standoff, the ever-present specter of repatriation to North Korea via China, I am most happy to announce that the embassy staff of the Republic of Korea took custody of the 10 North Korean refugees from the Luang Prabang Immigration Center.
In addition, two activists who had been imprisoned for part of this ordeal have been released.
We thank all of you for your encouragement, advocacy, camaraderie, and prayers throughout this grueling ordeal. Yet again, we remember the time-honored truism in times of darkness and difficulty: “God is still on the throne and prayer changes things.”