Thailand has no plans to treat North Koreans fleeing their country as political refugees, the Thai Foreign Ministry said, rejecting an idea reportedly suggested by South Korea's president.
Thailand currently keeps fleeing North Koreans in police detention facilities along with other illegal immigrants from all countries.
Thai foreign ministry spokesman Voradet Viravakin said in a statement that all North Koreans entering the country illegally will continue to be treated according to Thai law governing illegal immigrants.
Under international treaties, illegal immigrants are allowed to be sent back to their own countries, but people with a legitimate fear of being persecuted in their homelands are not supposed to be repatriated. Thailand does not publicize the ultimate destination of the refugees who arrive here, but none are known to have been sent back to North Korea.
Some 100 North Korean refugees currently are waiting in a Bangkok detention center for the chance to fly to Seoul or the United States.