9 Repatriated NK Orphans Face Life or Death
Sent Back by Lao Officials
Back in December 2011, a total of 15 defector youths, all of whom had once been Kot-jebi (homeless street kids), got together for a Christmas party in a hidden shelter in Dandong, China. Most look happy in the photo, but just a year and a half later, their fates have split between heaven and hell.
Eight of the defectors (1) to (8) finally assembled in February 2013, along with one more aged 20 (not shown in the photo). These eight were just arrested in Laos during their attempted escape to South Korea.
| Moon Chul (age 23)
 Lee Gwang Hyuk (age 18)
 Park Gwang Hyuk (age 18)
 Chan Gukka (age 16)
| Ryu Chul Yong (age 16)
 Ryu Gwang Hyuk (age 19)
 Roh Ae Ji (age 14)
 Jung Gwang Yong (age 20)
The defectors numbered 9 to 11 in the photo have already reached the US, while the defectors numbered 12 to 15 successfully reached South Korea in 2012. These youths are now enjoying their new lives of abundance and freedom.
News outlet Dong-A Ilbo obtained the names of the 9 defectors on May 28 and also the photo on May 30, but Pastor Joo, who guided the youths, insisted that the photo should not be publicly disclosed, worrying that the disclosure could cause the children further harm.
On the night of May 30, however, he changed his mind after a long discussion with Suzanne Scholte, president of North Korea Freedom Coalition. The Pastor has come to believe that only the concern of the world community will keep the repatriated children alive. Thus, he agreed to reveal the photo to the public. Dong-A Ilbo admires his wishes and joins in the world’s prayers for their safety.
What Other News Outlets Are Saying
BBC Online — UN ‘Dismayed’ over North Korea Refugees
|Asahi News — UN Fears 9 NK Defectors Sent Home by China
GENEVA–The United Nations has “credible information” that China has returned nine young North Korean defectors to their homeland, where they face possible severe punishment or even execution for having fled, it said on May 31.
|Wall Street Journal — Laos Returns Refugees to North Korea
SEOUL—Laos handed over a group of North Korean refugees to Pyongyang this week and rejected criticism it had endangered their lives, saying South Korea was informed of the detentions but made no attempt to help, an assertion a South Korean official disputed.