The South Korean government said on Tuesday it would punish North Korean refugees living in South Korea if they lie to secure residence in the West.
Some 14,180 North Koreans have escaped their hardline communist state and resettled in South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 war. Seoul has a constitutional obligation to accept them.
Of these, some 2,700 are believed to have left for other countries, Chun Ki-Won, a Christian pastor, has said.
South Korean spokesman Kim Ho-Nyoun said some North Korean refugees who resettled in South Korea had been trying to seek asylum in 'a European state' by concealing the fact that they have settled [in South Korea]. Fradulent asylum-seekers would get their state subsidies cut or receive criminal punishment, the unification ministry warned.
Seoul's foreign ministry last month said it was helping authorities in London identify more than 400 people who were seeking asylum in Britain by claiming to be 'genuine' North Korean defectors. London was sending their fingerprints and asking Seoul to check whether any of them had already been granted permission to live in South Korea. [AFP]