The North Korean authorities have ordered that children of overseas residents return home, Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun reported on September 20th. Overseas personnel are permitted to have one child remain with them, but all others must return to the North by the end of the month, the piece claims.
However, the news has not been verified.
If true it is estimated that the decree could hit as many as 3000 people, as it includes cases of students studying abroad unaccompanied by their parents. However, in truth the exact number is difficult to gauge without statistics on personnel sent overseas to earn foreign currency or engage in espionage.
It was recently revealed that the 18-year-old daughter of the chief of Pyongyang public security defected to South Korea in May. The teenager had been studying in China at the time. It is unclear whether the latest story, if true, might relate to that event.
The piece argued that North Korea recalling children of overseas residents is nothing more than attempt to “hold them hostage." It has long been the case that whole families are not officially allowed to live together overseas, an act that is thought designed to foreswear systemic exit.