Another 12 North Korean defectors have been arrested in China’s Jilin (Jilin Province) and Qinhuangdao (Hebei Province) cities and are facing repatriation.
“On August 2, seven North Korean defectors were arrested at Jilin’s train station, and on August 14, a further five defectors were caught in a vehicle by Chinese public security officers in Qinhuangdao,” a source familiar with North Korean affairs in China reported to Daily NK.
“The 12 defectors are awaiting repatriation after being interrogated by Chinese police officers. It is only a matter of time before they will be sent back to North Korea for punishment.”
The North Korean authorities have reportedly requested cooperation from China to arrest and repatriate North Korean defectors.
North Korean defectors face an expansive surveillance network within China after crossing the deadly border region. They must also deal with the indifference and unreliability of defection brokers who facilitate their escape.
“The more serious problem is that the brokers, fearing blame if the defectors are arrested, do not relay any news to the families of defectors. As a result, defectors who are arrested do not have any chance of help before they are forcibly repatriated,” a separate source in China with knowledge of the issues said.
“There are countless cases of defectors being arrested by Chinese public security officers which have not been publicized. In April and May, about 30 North Korean defectors were arrested within the space of two months in various Chinese regions including Shenyang, Qingdao, and Kunming, and they received no help from relatives back home.”
Radio Free Asia (quoting Human Rights Watch) reported on September 3 that at least 41 North Korean defectors and unspecified collaborators in China were detained over the prior two months of July and August.