100,000 North Korean Defectors Said To Be In Hiding In China

There are 100,000 North Korean defectors hiding in China, according to South Korea’s Unification Minister Hyun In-taek, the Joong Ang Daily, a South Korean newspaper, reports. Some agencies that aid North Korean defectors put the number at twice that.

Beijing does not recognize North Koreans who enter the country as refugees. It considers them illegal economic refugees to be repatriated (retribution is severe for those so returned). But slipping across the border into Jilin and Liaoning is the most direct way for North Koreans to flee their homeland. From there many make their way to South Korea via a third country such as Mongolia or Thailand, arriving in Seoul at at rate of 200 a year — a measure of how perilous the journey is.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry says that more than three out of four North Korean defectors are now women, adding that they “have better means of earning a living when hiding in China” than the men — a euphemism for human trafficking as sex slaves.

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