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S. Korean lawmaker, US Congress members meet over China’s forced return of North Korean defectors

By Kim Arin

Published : Nov. 10, 2023 - 22:22

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South Korean Rep. Tae Yong-ho meets with US senator Ted Cruz to discuss China’s forced return of North Korean defectors. (courtesy of Tae’s office) South Korean Rep. Tae Yong-ho meets with US senator Ted Cruz to discuss China’s forced return of North Korean defectors. (courtesy of Tae’s office)

Rep. Tae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat, met with five members of the US congress during his trip to Washington on Nov. 7-8 to jointly raise concerns about China forcibly repatriating North Koreans who defected into its territories.

The South Korean lawmaker with the ruling People Power Party said in a release Friday that he discussed the issue of China’s forced repatriation of North Korean defectors in meetings with Sen. Ted Cruz and House of Representatives members Chris Smith, Michelle Steel, Tim Burchett and Scott Perry.

Tae said in the meetings that he asked the US senators and House members to urge the Joe Biden administration to call on China to respect the principle of non-refoulement guaranteed under international law and stop its forced return of escapees from North Korea.

He said that the US Congress could introduce and adopt a resolution asking the Chinese government to end forced repatriation of North Korean defectors. He added that he hoped for more actions from the Biden administration to increase pressure on Beijing in bilateral dialogues and at the United Nations General Assembly on the issue.

Tae also noted that a delegation of escapees whose family members were forcibly sent back to North Korea -- whom he invited to travel with him -- also spoke at the meetings, and told US Congress members about the likely human rights abuses that North Korean defectors would be subject to upon being returned.

According to Tae, the US Congress members reciprocated by saying they were willing to pursue more efforts to campaign against China’s forced repatriation of North Korean defectors.