6 North Koreans and 3 Korean-Chinese civilians arrived in southwestern South Korea on the afternoon of the 24th after apparently sailing across the West Sea from China.
The nine arrived on a South Korean trawler at the port of Gunsan in North Jeolla Province.
Following the establishment of the precise details of their journey to South Korea, the six defectors were transferred to Seoul to face questioning by the South Korean security services. The three Korean-Chinese are likely to be deported after questioning.
Preliminary investigation has apparently revealed that the six North Koreans include members of just two families; a couple and their 7-year old daughter and a brother and sister and their mother. Some of them are said to have spent between three and four years in China, before heading for South Korea after being reunited with remaining family members.
The group was able to reach South Korea thanks to the aid of a South Korean missionary organization, Caleb Mission, which reportedly took a boat out to meet the group’s boat on the open sea and bring them into Gunsan.
“We could not ignore the pleas of devout defectors to bring their families left behind in the North,” Kim Seong Eun of Caleb Mission explained, adding, “The majority of these defectors harbored grievances against the North Korean system.”