Eight defectors were arrested by Chinese police in late May, according to Voice of America.
Voice of America (VOA) reported on May 30 that four defectors, including a 13-year-old girl, were arrested by Chinese police in Nanning, Guangxi Province, after trying to cross into another country from China.
Nanning is close to China’s border with Vietnam and while there are many cases of defectors being arrested in the Sino-North Korean border region, there are few such cases in China’s southern region, where defectors cross over into other countries. This suggests that the Chinese government may be strengthening its border security measures throughout the country.
“A mother in her late 60s, her 18-year-old son, and her 13-year-old daughter were trying to cross into Vietnam along with a woman in her 20s when they were caught,” VOA learned from “Kim,” who defected to South Korea in 2014. It remains unclear where the four are being held by Chinese authorities.
VOA also reported that another four defectors, two men and two women, were arrested by Chinese police on May 24 in Shenyang, in China’s Liaoning Province.
The South Korea-based families of the four defectors arrested in Shenyang held a protest in front of South Korea’s Blue House on May 27. They called for the South Korean government to pressure China to avoid forcibly repatriating the four defectors. Kim Tae-hoon, the head of Lawyers for Human Rights and Unification of Korea, visited South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the family members to demand the South Korean government take action.
“The South Korean government always says they know what’s going on, but there’s been no progress so everyone’s just frustrated. We have little choice but to demand that the government do something,” Kim told Daily NK on May 31. “We plan to ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the American and Chinese embassies, and even the UN, to step in and take action.”
Another group of seven defectors, including a nine-year-old child, was arrested by Chinese police on the outskirts of Shenyang on May 28 and is currently facing forcible repatriation back to North Korea. The group is still being held at a detention facility in Anshan.