China has released 30 North Korean defectors who some feared would be forcibly sent back to the reclusive state, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday, citing a defector who has taken asylum in South Korea.
The defector told the US-funded broadcaster the previous day that the Chinese government freed them as it is concerned about criticism in the international community that Beijing deports North Korean defectors back to their home country, where they face severe punishment.
He alleged that Chinese authorities last month caught many defectors who had long stayed in China but did not have an identification card when strengthening security and inspection around a March 25-28 visit to China by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Radio Free Asia earlier said the defector's wife was arrested along with his son in Shenyang, northeastern China, in November before being sent back to the North, but they were later released, a rare measure given that North Korean defectors, if sent back, usually face the prospects of punishment meted out in prison camps, correctional centers or labor training camps. (Yonhap)