August 10, 2022

Why North Koreans Should Be Allowed Asylum Beyond South Korea

Economic and social discrimination in South Korea provides a rationale for asylum in third countries

North Korean re-migrants are in a precarious position, sometimes offered asylum, other times deported as illegal immigrants. Until now, it has been taken for granted that because a majority of these individuals leaving South Korea are, or were, carrying South Korean passports, they are in no position to seek refuge elsewhere. Putting precedent aside for a moment, let us reflect on why it might be time to reconsider the rights of North Koreans, under international law, to claim asylum in a third country.

Popular destinations for North Koreans to re-migrate to include Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. However, because they lack the same kinds of social and economic capital as their Southern brethren, legitimate migration is more difficult. As a result, a majority of North Korean re-migrants must either enter third countries illegally, or are overstaying their visa and risking deportation back to South Korea.