North Koreans would rather drink poison than return
March 14, 2002 12:07 PM   Subscribe

North Koreans would rather drink poison than return Refugees seek asylum at the Spanish embassy in China. "We are now at the point of such desperation and live in such fear of persecution within North Korea that we have come to the decision to risk our lives for freedom rather than passively await our doom," the group's statement said. "Some of us carry poison on our person to commit suicide if the Chinese authorities should choose once again to send us back to North Korea," the statement said.
posted by norm29 (7 comments total)
Makes sense to me, because if China returns them, they will most certainly be tortured before they are put to death.

It would be nice if Spain could secret them away, but China considers the people illegal immigrants, so they'll probably all get sent back to North Korea, in bodybags. (assuming they carry out their suicide threat)
posted by insomnyuk at 1:38 PM on March 14, 2002

sounds like North Korea is an evil place, wonder if anyone in the whitehouse has noticed?
posted by Mick at 1:54 PM on March 14, 2002

Must be propaganda cooked up by Bush's speechwriters. Couldn't be any other explanation, you know.

Reminds one of the Siberian Seven, Soviet Pentecostals who sought refuge in the American Embassy compound in Moscow and ended up living there from 1979 to 1983. I seem to recall a larger crowd of perhaps two dozen asylum-seekers from the Caucasus who showed up near the end of the USSR, but with the end of the Soviet Union, were permitted to leave by the Russian Federation. They weren't there as long, though.
posted by dhartung at 3:54 PM on March 14, 2002

If Spain sends them back, they achieve near-France status.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:52 PM on March 14, 2002

I don't know if it's being reported over there, but here in Korea they're pointing to the fact that this group (not sure if the entire 25, or some portion thereof) did the same thing once before, and was sent back to North Korea. This is their second attempt.

It's even more interesting to me (this sort of thing happens all the damn time, if not involving such large groups - over 1000 North Koreans escaped through China last year, and 123 have already done so this year (not including this group)) that they were media-savvy enough to make sure that there were multiple video cameras around when they made the rush into the Spanish compound, presumably to help publicize their plight and in hopes that the that publicity would make it less likely that China would send them back.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:02 PM on March 14, 2002

From the BBC:

"Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji says that agreement has been reached on the status of 25 North Korean asylum seekers who forced their way into the Spanish embassy in Beijing on Thursday. Mr Zhu told a news conference in the capital that the matter would be handled in accordance with the law, but gave no further details about what was agreed. However, South Korean television said the group was leaving for the Philippines. And in Manila, a government official told Reuters news agency that the North Koreans would be arriving there before being sent on to a third country."
posted by homunculus at 9:18 PM on March 14, 2002

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