Anger over N. Korean refugees repatriated from Laos
SEOUL (AFP) - Human rights monitors and North Korean defector groups voiced anger and concern on Thursday over the forced repatriation to Pyongyang of nine young refugees captured in Laos.
The case has aroused strong public feeling in South Korea. Some have accused the foreign ministry, which has declined to comment on the issue in any detail, of failing in its duty to protect the refugees once they got to Laos.
Most North Korean refugees begin their escape by crossing into China and then try to make it to third countries - often in Southeast Asia - where they seek permission to resettle in South Korea.
If they are caught and returned to the North they can face severe punishment.