June 02, 2020

Why so many North Koreans need to reach third countries to defect
South Korea must press China more to stop refoulement, experts say

A total of 31,093 North Korean defectors have made it to South Korea since 1998, and every year about a thousand more arrive. The majority travel an estimated 3000 miles across China to reach third countries such as Thailand, Laos, or Mongolia before flying to South Korea.

This route may seem strangely roundabout. After all, there is an ROK consulate in Shenyang, China, not far from the North Korean border, as well as an embassy in Beijing. What is to stop a North Korean from simply entering a South Korean embassy or consulate in China and claiming asylum?