Thailand has become a haven for North Koreans who flee their country on an "underground railroad" via China to Southeast Asia -- often undergoing harrowing experiences along the way.
Says Tim Peters, a U.S. Christian activist who heads up the charity Helping Hands Korea,
"Thailand, because of its history and experience dealing with refugees from Cambodia, Burma and elsewhere, deals responsibly with refugees, and there is a regional office of the UNHCR in Bangkok."
Mr. Peters was featured on the cover of Time magazine's Asian edition in May for his work helping North Korean refugees.
Asked how many have fled North Korea, Mr. Peters said it is difficult to say. "It is almost anyone's guess, but I would multiply State Department figures of [30,000] to 50,000 by 10," he said.
He cited food shortages and the aftermath of disastrous flooding last month as "push factors" driving North Koreans out of their land, adding that China has recently deployed 2,000 extra troops to seal its border with North Korea.
[Excerpt of article by Andrew Salmon, The Washington Times]