Tags: NKorea | refugee | rights

NKorea Releases Video of Repatriated Young Refugees

Tuesday, 09 Dec 2014 06:59 AM

North Korea released Tuesday video footage showing some of the young refugees who were controversially repatriated by Laos last year, in an apparent bid to refute claims that the eldest members of the group had been executed.

The nine refugees, aged 15 to 19, were arrested in Laos in May 2013 for illegal entry and were eventually returned to North Korea via China despite pleas by Seoul and the United Nations against the repatriation.

Seoul and the UN at the time voiced strong concerns for the safety of the children once they returned to their repressive homeland.

The video posted on the North's official website, Uriminzokkiri, showed four of the teenagers studying at the prestigious Kumsong middle school in Pyongyang.

In recorded interviews, they praised their lives at home and the country's leader Kim Jong-Un.

"I think we are receiving even better treatment than others," said one of the teenagers Ro Jong-Yong.

"I feel so proud for attending the school so many others wanted to attend but can't," another child called Ri Gwang-Hyok said.

The 25-minute video did not show the other five teenagers, but said they were studying in schools in other regions of the country.

Among the missing five are the two who are alleged to have been executed.

Park Sun-Young, a former Seoul lawmaker and an activist for North Korean refugees, said last week two of the nine children had been executed after their return and that seven others had been sent to a prison camp.

The case of the nine escapees attracted global attention partly because of their young age and reports suggesting they were all orphans.

The North insisted the nine were lured, kidnapped and brainwashed by Seoul-sponsored human traffickers posing as religious activists — a claim rejected by Seoul.

Most North Koreans fleeing their homeland begin their journey by crossing into the neighbouring China, where they risk being repatriated if caught.

They then try to make it to a third country, mostly in Southeast Asia, from where they mostly seek permission to resettle in South Korea.

Those who are caught and deported back to the North face severe punishment including a labour camp jail term, according to defectors in Seoul and rights groups.

The North however says the returnees are well cared for.

The number of North Koreans who have resettled in the South nosedived from 2,706 in 2011 to 1,502 in 2012 after Kim took power and strengthened border security. The annual tally remained 1,514 in 2013.

© AFP 2017

   
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North Korea released Tuesday video footage showing some of the young refugees who were controversially repatriated by Laos last year, in an apparent bid to refute claims that the eldest members of the group had been executed.
NKorea, refugee, rights
413
2014-59-09
Tuesday, 09 Dec 2014 06:59 AM
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