Among the group of 19 North Korean defectors arrested at the border of Myanmar on December 2, and about to be tried by Burma for illegal entry are four children. The North Koreans face either deportation back to China or Thailand or between six months and two years in prison.
The mother of two of them, a North Korean woman who had preceded them to South Korea, pleaded today with Myanmar to release her two children.
"Two of them are my children, aged six and 15," said the woman in an interview with Radio Free Asia. After she heard her children were arrested by Myanmar's authorities, she had traveled to the border to meet her children. "But my requests to see my children were denied (by Myanmar authorities)."
She explained her children had fled North Korea with her mother and two sisters and arrived at China's northern border. "Then, my mother was arrested and deported back to North Korea, and two of my sisters were sold out to local brokers and have since been unheard of," she said.
South Korean NGOs and family members in South Korea are staging a humanitarian campaign to help the defectors, whose trial is expected to take place this week.