Wednesday, October 21, 2009

9 North Korean refugees in Hanoi leave for Seoul

After nearly a month at the Danish embassy in Hanoi, nine North Korean asylum-seekers flew out of Vietnam yesterday minutes before the South Korean president arrived for a state visit. They were to stop in Singapore before continuing to Seoul, said the source who declined to be named.

The group had spent almost four weeks living in a garage and an attached blue tent on the embassy compound. They included a doctor and his wife, a mother and her 13-year-old daughter, and a woman who had worked as a “virtual slave” in a Chinese karaoke club, said the activist group.

North Korean refugees flee the impoverished and isolated North on an “underground railroad” of illegal border crossings and safe houses that usually leads via China to Mongolia or Southeast Asia. The nine entered the Danish compound on September 24 hoping to reach South Korea, Kim Sang-Hun, an activist who said his group helped them reach the embassy, said earlier. They are the latest in a series of North Korean escapees who have sought asylum at various Hanoi embassies in recent years.

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