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One Year after the Deportation of Nine North Korean Youth from Laos
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2015-04-08 21:01:00
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One Year after the Deportation of Nine North Korean Youth from Laos

Photos given to CNN by the South Korean missionary accompanying the young North Koreans to safety

Today marks one year since nine North Korean youth were deported from Laos and later repatriated to North Korea. While being led by South Korean missionaries to the South Korean embassy in Vientiane, where they would be given safe passageway out of the country, the nine orphans were captured by Lao officials. They were detained in an immigration center for 17 days, deceived by a North Korean representative presenting himself as a representative from the South Korean government, and on May 27, 2013, deported to China. At some point shortly after, the youth were repatriated to North Korea. Not once during the refugees’ 17-day detention did the government of South Korea take any action to protect them. 

On December 18, 2013 the Korean Bar Association published the result of their own independent investigation stating that “the South Korean Embassy in Laos ignored appeals from the South Korean missionary couple to protect 9 arrested North Korean orphans who were under the couple’s care.” As a result of the investigation, the Korean Bar Association requested several changes in policies of the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs toward North Koreans in need of consular protection in third countries.

Last year, we appealed to you to ensure that the youth would not face severe punishment. Today, however, we do not know the fate of the nine youth. The last time they appeared publicly was on North Korean state TV on June 20, 2013. Some of them looked intimidated. Human rights activists fear that without the international community’s continuing interest, their lives may be in danger.

We urge you to continue pressing your relevant governments with diplomatic missions in Pyongyang to request personal meetings with the nine youth. Please also urge your government to pay special attention to North Koreans in the countries of transit where your country has diplomatic missions. Please continue to request the governments of China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia and Thailand to respect the principle of non-refoulement in regards to the North Korean refugees on their territories.

The names of the North Korean youth who were deported from Laos:

1. MOON Cheol (24 years old)
2. BAEK Young Won (21 years old)
3. JEONG Kwang Yeong (21 years old)
4. RYU Kwang Hyeok (20 years old)
5. RYU Cheol Ryong (17 years old)
6. PARK Kwang Hyeok (19 years old)
7. LEE Kwang Hyeok (19 years old)
8. JANG Guk Hwa (17 years old)
9. ROH Jeong Hyeon (16 years old)

Thank you.

Seoul, May 27, 2014

Attach file#1 : Youth.jpg