Activists in Seoul have accused Laotian authorities of handing a group of young North Korean refugees over to DPRK agents for repatriation.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
The case has drawn national attention in South Korea because it is thought to be the first case of Laos — a common transit point for North Koreans fleeing their homeland — handing over defectors to agents from the North. The South Korean government is also facing accusations of not intervening quickly enough to help the escapees.
The precise whereabouts of the nine North Koreans between the ages of 15 and 23 isn’t known, but they are believed to be inside China, activists said.
The defectors, arrested in Laos three weeks ago, are believed to be somewhere in China, from where they will likely be repatriated to North Korea.
Prior to this case, Laos had been considered a relatively safe route for defectors to take from North to South Korea.
[Image credit: @tracer]