N. Korea building fences along border with China: sources


North Korea has started building fences along its border with China in an apparent attempt to forestall defections of its hard-pressed citizens, local residents said Sunday.

The move comes amid growing international criticism of China which sends back home North Korean border trespassers under an agreement with Pyongyang.

Some human rights activists have been pressuring Beijing not to repatriate North Korean refugees, threatening to launch a campaign to boycott the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

About a month ago, North Korean workers were spotted erecting wire fences along a 10-kilometer area near a narrow tributary of the Yalu River, a major border-crossing point, local residents said.

China already built fences along its side of the border late last year.

“North Korea started building a dike early this year and building posts about a month ago,” one resident said.

An increasing number of North Koreans are fleeing their impoverished communist homeland, hoping to defect mostly to South Korea. Some of them travel as far as Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries via China for safe passage to South Korea.

More than 10,000 North Korean defectors have so far arrived in South Korea amid reports that up to 300,000 North Korean refugees are roaming in China on their way to South Korea and other countries away from their impoverished homeland.


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