Archive for the ‘Emigration statistics’ Category

Official Data Shed New Light on Pyongyang Population

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

According to the Choson Ilbo:

The Weekly Chosun has obtained detailed official records of some 2 million adult residents of the North Korean capital Pyongyang from a source in the North Korea-China border area. The data, which contains the names, date of birth and home addresses of 2,108,032 Pyongyang residents, was compiled by the North’s State Security Department in 2005.

The data does not include children up to age of 17 or an estimated 10,000 members of the elite including relatives of leader Kim Jong-il, or of soldiers stationed in Pyongyang from provincial areas, according to the source.

But it does include people in four districts that were excluded from the Pyongyang administrative area last year. According to official data published by South Korea’s Unification ministry based on the North’s Central Yearbook in February, Pyongyang’s population shrank by about 500,000 as a result of administrative restructuring. But the list shows only about 197,000 adults living in those four districts in 2005.

The difference of 300,000 is too big to make sense, even if the omitted child population is taken into consideration.

The most remarkable aspect of the data is the shortage of men. There are a mere 870,000 men on the list compared to 1.22 million women.

What caused the imbalance is not known but it is possible that many men are soldiers and therefore not counted. Another guess is that there are more women in the capital because they are shipped there for mass rallies.

A former senior North Korean official who defected to the South in 2007, said, “More than six out of every 10 Pyongyang residents are female. It’s mostly the elite who are allowed to live in Pyongyang. A lot of men have been moved out to the suburbs, but the women are mobilized for mass events, which explains the gender imbalance.”

Based on analysis of the records, the average marriage age is 27 years old. More than 80 percent of adults in Pyongyang were registered as married, compared to South Korea, where single households are on the rise. Some 410,000 or 20 percent of the total population in Pyongyang were unmarried and under 27 years old. Divorcees accounted for about 1 percent of the total population with 21,000, although North Korean defectors say divorce and remarriage rates there are gradually increasing.

About 830,000 or more than one-third are party members — a very high ratio considering that the total number of party members across North Korea is about 2 million.

The remaining 1.28 million seem to be either prospective members or family of members. They are said to be working mainly in party-affiliated organizations.

A defector from Pyongyang told the Weekly Chosun, “It’s hard for non-party members to live in Pyongyang. Many people are in the process of becoming party members, even if they haven’t been admitted yet. They consider it an honor. So really most people in Pyongyang are in the party.”

According to the data, there are 124 registered foreign nationals in Pyongyang from 15 countries including the U.S., Japan, China, the former Soviet Union or Russia, the Czech Republic, Canada, France, and Lebanon. Japanese citizens top the list with 86, but they are likely to be ethnic Koreans. About one person from every European country lives in Pyongyang.

Read the full story here:
Official Data Shed New Light on Pyongyang Population
Choson Ilbo
201-1-23

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2011 DPRK emigration statistics

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

UPDATE 4 (2011-10-9): According to Yonhap, only 20 North Korean defectors are working as public servants in South Korea:

Only 20 North Korean defectors work as public servants in South Korea, an opposition lawmaker said Sunday, the latest sign that North Koreans are struggling to join mainstream South Korean society.

The figure represents just a small fraction of the more than 22,000 North Korean defectors in South Korea.

In June, Cho Myung-chul, a former economics professor at the North’s elite Kim Il-sung University, was appointed to lead a government body in charge of educating citizens on unification with North Korea.

Cho is the first North Korean defector to become a senior government official in South Korea.

Nineteen others work in the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, in the Seoul Metropolitan Government, and in Incheon city, as well as in Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds Seoul, according to Park Joo-sun of the opposition Democratic Party.

Separately, 38 North Korean defectors are temporary workers in the central and local governments under a program aimed at expanding employment of North Korean defectors, Park said, citing the Unification Ministry.

A recent survey showed the unemployment rate of North Korean defectors stood at 9.2 percent, about three times higher than that of other South Koreans.

UPDATE 3 (2011-9-23): Yonhap reports that DPRK student defectors increase 3.5-fold since 2006:

A total of 1,681 elementary, middle and high school students fleeing from the communist country reside here in 2011, up 235.9 percent from 475 in 2006, according to the report by the education ministry and submitted to parliament for a regular audit.

Elementary school students accounted for 60.7 percent of the defector students below college level, followed by high school students with 22.2 percent and middle school students with 17.1 percent, the report showed.

The total number of North Koreans defecting to the South surpassed the 20,000 mark in November last year for the first time, almost double from around 10,200 in 2006, according to the Unification Ministry data.

Meanwhile, the dropout rate of North Korean defectors in schools here has gradually decreased over the past few years, from 10.8 percent in 2007 to 6.1 percent in 2008 to 4.7 percent in 2010, according to the report, a sign that efforts to help support young North Korean defectors paid off.

Reasons for their withdrawal from the regular schooling include adjustment failure, responsibilities for housework and taking a school qualification exam instead of completing high school for entering college, the report showed.

UPDATE 2 (2011-9-19): Yonhap reports that 378 N. Korean defectors under protection of S. Korea’s overseas missions.  According to the report:

“As of the end of July, a total of 378 North Korean defectors are under the protection of overseas missions and the ministry is working with relevant nations and international organizations to swiftly transfer them to South Korea,” the ministry said in a report to the National Assembly.

The number of defectors arriving in South Korea via its diplomatic missions totaled 2,423 last year, 2,927 in 2009, 2,089 in 2008, 2,544 in 2007 and 2,018 in 2006, according to the report.

From January to August this year, 1,797 defectors arrived in the South via the diplomatic missions, it said.

UPDATE 1 (2011-7-4): According to Yonhap:

The number of North Korean defectors to South Korea has exceeded 1,400 [1,428] in the first six months of the year, up 14 percent compared to the same period last year, a government official here said Monday.

The Choson Ilbo also reports on the emigration numbers:

The Unification Ministry on Monday said 52 percent of the 1,428 North Koreans who came to South Korea in the first half of this year took a year or less to complete the journey, significantly more than the 30 percent in 2009 and 39 percent in 2010.

After a sudden 19-percent drop last year, the number of North Koreans who come to the South is growing again. It steadily increased until 2009 to hit 2,927. But amid growing unrest, the regime cracked down on defectors and it seems asked China to help. But the Chinese crackdowns simply hastened defectors’ move to South Korea, so the figure skyrocketed again this year and is likely to exceed 3,000 by the end of this year, according to the ministry official.

Meanwhile, 47 percent of the new arrivals in the first half of this year had family members already living in the South, up from 36.4 percent from last year. Those who were accompanied by their families also took up a bigger share with 49 percent, up 10 percent from last year. The official said the reason is that many whole families are escaping as they see no hope in the isolated country and plan to go to South Korea from the start. “It’s not just because of economic hardship,” he added.

There are a total of 21,788 North Korean defectors in the South, of whom 75 percent are between the age of 20 and 49, and 72 percent women.

ORIGINAL POST (2011-6-13): According to KBS:

The number of North Korean defectors who entered South Korea this year numbered around eleven-hundred at the end of May.

This is up 14 percent from the same time last year.

A Unification Ministry official on Monday told reporters that the rise is considered unusual given the North has tightened border security.

Read the full story here:
Seoul says flow of N. Korean defectors likely to continue
Yonhap
2011-7-14

No. of NK Defectors who Enter S.Korea Rises 14%
KBS
2011-6-13

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Cambodia and DPRK emigration

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Sebastian Strangio points out a few interesting facts in the Asia Times about DPRK defection through Cambodia:

1. The Cambodian government has quietly worked to facilitate the processing of North Koreans as they move onto South Korea.

According to the US cables, the processing of North Korean arrivals is done in a quiet, ad hoc manner. In an October 2006 dispatch (06PHNOMPENH1927), Om Yentieng, one of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s advisors, was quoted as saying that the processing of North Koreans in Cambodia was “the result of an understanding reached between the prime minister and the South Korean ambassador to Cambodia”.

Secrecy was clearly a priority for the South Koreans. In a July 2007 cable (07PHNOMPENH925) documenting a meeting between South Korean and US officials to discuss the fate of five North Korean refugees in Cambodia who were seeking resettlement in the US, the South Koreans were “preoccupied with conveying their desire that the ROK [Republic of Korea – South Korea] pipeline for North Korean refugees not be publicly revealed”. They also demanded it remain separate from Washington’s own North Korean “refugee processing pipeline”.

A dispatch from April 2008 (08PHNOMPENH316) expressed gratitude to Cambodian officials for “expeditiously processing” the exit permits of two North Korean individuals who departed for the US on April 16. American officials were also “impressed” at Cambodian immigration officials’ “discreet handling” of the cases of another group of North Koreans who departed the previous November.

“During the quiet November departure, no one at the airport noticed the North Koreans’ comings and goings,” it stated. (According to figures released by the Office of Immigration Statistics at the Department of Homeland Security in May, the US resettled more than 100 North Korean refugees between 2006 and 2010 under legislation to help improve human rights conditions in the reclusive country.)

2. Cambodia is no longer a major hub in the underground railraod.  Thailand is now the prefered destination.

It appears, however, that Cambodia has since declined in importance as a conduit for North Korean defectors in favor of a route through Laos into northern Thailand. Pastor Chun Ki-won, head of the Seoul-based refugee aid group Durihana said that Cambodia – along with Mongolia – was one of the few Asian countries willing to aid North Koreans at the start of the 2000s when refugee flows were still relatively low.

Durihana has helped around 900 North Korean defectors reach South Korea over the years. Chun’s first aid mission, which he undertook in July 2001, involved the smuggling of a North Korean woman and her child from northeast China to Phnom Penh via Vietnam. Cambodia increased in importance after December 2001, Chun said, when he was arrested in a Chinese crackdown trying to smuggle a group of refugees across the Mongolian border.

Chun said that due to increased vigilance by Vietnamese authorities, most North Korean refugees now arrive in Southeast Asia via Laos and Thailand. The claim is mirrored in figures from the Thai Immigration Bureau which reveal a 50-fold increase in North Korean arrivals from Laos, from 46 in 2004 – around the time arrivals in Cambodia seem to have begun their decline – to 2,482 in 2010. 870 North Korean refugee arrivals have already been recorded between January and April of this year.

In a 2006 cable from the US consulate in Chiang Mai (06CHIANGMAI79), one official predicted that the increase in North Korean refugee arrivals – then still fairly contained – “may yet be the tip of the iceberg”. “[E]vidence suggests that the stream of refugees is unlikely to decrease, with a network of Christian missionary organizations in Thailand and southern China cooperating to bring in more refugees through Yunnan province, Burma [Myanmar], and Laos and into Thailand’s Chiang Rai province,” the cable stated.

Read the full story here:
All aboard North Korea’s refugee railroad
Asia Times
Sebastian Strangio
2011-8-3

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DPRK defection numbers / trends update

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

(2011-7-14) The International Crisis Group published a report on DPRK defectors living in South Korea.  Here is the executive summary.  Here is the full report (PDF).  Below are some statistics that others might like to know for future reference (Footnotes can be found in the original document):

There were only 86 defectors from 1990 to 1994, and the numbers remained under 100 each year until 1999. North Korea’s deteriorating economy and a subsequent famine in the mid-1990s, along with an erosion of border controls that opened an escape route into China, began to push the numbers higher by 2000. In 2001, 583 North Koreans arrived in South Korea. The following year the figure nearly doubled to 1,138. By 2007, about 10,000 North Korean defectors had arrived in the South, and by December 2010, the number reached 20,360. The number is expected to remain steady at about 2,500-3,000 per year or even to increase, although slightly fewer defectors arrived in 2010 due to tightened restrictions in North Korea, including greater punishment for attempting to defect.

In 1998, only 12 per cent of the 947 defectors in the South were female. But they surpassed males in 2002, and in 2010 they accounted for 76 per cent of the 2,376 defectors who arrived in the South. By January 2011, the cumulative total of defectors nineteen years of age and younger was 3,174 – 15.4 per cent of all defectors in the South.

About 70 per cent of the defectors arriving recently have graduated from middle school or high school, about 9 per cent have graduated from junior colleges, and about 8 per cent are college graduates. About 50 per cent were unemployed or dependents before they left the North, and about 39 per cent were workers.

According to Pak Chŏn-ran [Park Jeon-ran], a specialist on defectors at Seoul National University’s Institute for Unification Studies, “the health status of defectors who left their families in the North is five times worse than that of defectors who escaped North Korea with relatives or friends”.107 She also found in a study that 20 per cent of ailments afflicting defectors were psychosomatic. The medical staff at a government reintegration centre reported that about 70 per cent of their patients exhibited symptoms of depression or other stress-related disorders.

In 2007, researchers from Seoul National University disclosed that in interviews conducted with over 200 defectors, 80 per cent indicated they had contracted at least one ailment since arriving in the South. In April of the same year, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs released a study on the health of 6,500 defectors who had arrived in the South between 2000 and 2005. Some 1.8 per cent were infected with syphilis in 2004 and 2.1 per cent in 2005. About 20 per cent of 700 women aged twenty to 49 suffered from some type of gynaecological disorder.

The Korea Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reports that the average height and weight of defectors is much lower than their South Korean counterparts. The average North Korean male defector is 164.4cm tall and weighs 60.2kg, compared to the average South Korean man, who stands 171.4cm tall and weighs 72kg. The figures for North Korean female defectors and South Korean women are: 154.2cm and 158.4cm; 52.8kg and 57.1kg. The average teenage male defector’s height is 155.7cm, 13.5cm less than the average South Korean counterpart; the average weight is 47.3kg, 13.5kg less than that of the South Korean. The average heights and weights for teenage female defectors and South Korean teenage females are: 151.1cm and 159.4cm; 46.9kg and 52.3kg.

In January 2011, only 50 per cent of defectors were employed (10,248 of 20,539), and most of these were in unskilled manual labour jobs (7,901, or 77 per cent of those employed). Only 439 defectors (4 per cent) were working in skilled jobs, and 381 were working in administrative positions.

Those who do find work earn on average W1.27 million (about $1,170) per month, which is just above the minimum subsistence level for a family of three.

These levels of unemployment persist despite subsidies for employers who hire defectors; the government provides up to W500,000 of monthly salaries for the first year and up to W700,000 of monthly salaries for the second year.

Many defectors reach the South with the help of people known as brokers. The journey can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000. Many brokers will defer payment until the government in Seoul has paid resettlement money. To prevent a developing business in bringing defectors to the South, in 2005 the government cut the payments from a W10 million (about $9,400) lump sum to W6 million (about $5,600) paid out over several years. This has left many defectors with considerable debts.

More posts on this topic below:

(more…)

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DPRK defectors in the US

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

According to KBS Global:

The Voice of America (VOA) said Wednesday that two North Korean defectors were granted refugee status and settled in the U.S. in June.

The VOA referenced a report by the U.S. State Department that said from October last year through June, a total of 21 North Koreans entered the U.S. as refugees.

The VOA reported that since the passage of the North Korean Human Rights Act in the U.S. in 2004, the number of North Korean refugees entering the U.S. has increased to 122.

Previous stories stories about DPRK emigration can be found here.

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Seoul signals increased willingness to accept DPRK defectors…

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

…by expanding the capacities of Hanawon.

According to Yonhap:

South Korea will build a new facility to accommodate a growing number of North Koreans fleeing poverty and political oppression from their communist homeland, an official said Wednesday.

The move is the latest reminder that the flow of North Korean defectors isn’t letting up despite Pyongyang’s harsh crackdown on escapees. Seoul is now home to more than 21,700 North Koreans.

South Korea has already been running two other resettlement centers, known as Hanawon near Seoul to help the defectors better adjust to life in the capitalist South.

Still, the government will break ground for another resettlement center in Hwacheon on July 7 as the two current facilities are running at full capacity, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo told reporters.

The area is about 118 kilometers northeast of Seoul.

She also said the government is planning to offer re-education for former North Korean teachers, doctors and other experts in the new resettlement center to be built by the end of 2012.

The announcement comes amid the latest dispute between the two Koreas over nine North Koreans who defected to the South earlier this month.

Seoul has indicated it will not return the North Korean defectors despite the North’s request for repatriation. The North usually claims South Korea kidnaps its citizens, charges that Seoul denies.

Some defectors have criticized Hanawon.

Read the full story here:
S. Korea to build new resettlement facility for N. Korean defectors
Yonhap
2011-6-22

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N. Koreans use phones to sneak information out

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

According to the Korea Herald:

North Korea is a country that has been almost entirely isolated from news around the world for the past 60 years. The regime in Pyongyang allows Internet access to only a fraction of government officials and its power elite as it prepares for a third-generation hereditary succession to a young man in his late 20s.

The people of North Korea have been brainwashed since childhood to pay respect to the country’s idolized “Great Leader” Kim Il-sung and his son “Dear Leader” Jong-il.

So was Kim Hung-kwang until he began watching South Korean movies and drama in 1995.

“Toddlers are taught by their parents to say ‘thank you, Dear Leader’ before every meal,” Kim said in an interview with The Korea Herald.

“I had been a brainwashed, proud member of the (North Korean Workers’) party myself, until I came across South Korean films in 1995 and eventually learned that the outside world was much better.”

The computer engineering professor managed to flee the North seven years later and arrived in the South in 2003. He was joined by his family two years later.

Born in the eastern coastal city of Hamheung in 1960, Kim graduated from Kim Chaek University of Technology in Pyongyang, meaning he had been one of the North Korean regime’s highly trusted party members. While working as a professor of computer engineering at the Communist University, he was caught for lending some CDs containing South Korean drama to a friend and was sent to a collective farm as punishment.

This prompted him to defect to the South via China in 2003.

In 2008, he launched North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity with about 300 professors, engineers, doctors, journalists and writers from the North.

Now, he runs a dormitory and school for children of fellow defectors from the North, an Internet broadcasting station and publishes a periodical of articles by his colleagues.

The NK Intellectuals Solidarity is also a well-known source of breaking news from the North such as the currency denomination measure in late 2008 thanks to its informants around the China-North Korea border areas.

About 3,000 mobile phones are believed to be secretly used in the North for business purposes or delivering local information across the border, according to Kim.

“About 10 of them are ours, through which we hear about what’s going on there from our informants,” he said.

The informants in the North face the danger of getting caught by the authorities while speaking on the phone near the Tumen and Yalu Rivers with their co-workers in China.

One of Kim’s informants was caught two years ago on charges of spying and was tortured to death.

“She was a mother of three in her 30s who told us things like how the locals perceive the latest economic policies, but (the North Korean authorities) branded her as a spy,” Kim said.

“(Her death) was traumatizing and made us question if we should keep doing this. But we decided not to stop because otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to know about the inhumane crimes committed in the North.”

Kim’s solidarity has also sent in about 300 USBs technically modified to avoid detection.

The USBs do not contain any propaganda, but information on “what the defectors found surprising in the South,” dozens of new media programs such as PDF viewer, MP3 player software and e-books to enable more North Koreans to view South Korean video and text files, Kim said.

“Contrary to what we had expected, copies of Wikipedia entries turned out to be the most popular (among the North Koreans),” he said.

Currently, only five homepage servers are registered under the North Korean domain (.kr). The country connected itself to the Internet in mid-August, but only a handful of selected people are believed to have access to the Web.

Over 20,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the Korean War ended in a truce in 1953. Hundreds are entering the South each month now mostly via China.

“I think about 4,000 people will arrive (in the South) next year,” Kim said.

“Women used to take up about 80 percent (of the defectors) before, but lately the percentage of men is going up.”

The North still maintains tight vigilance along its borders, but an increasing number of people manage to avoid the authorities’ eyes mainly thanks to bribery.

“Nowadays, it costs between 3.5 and 4 million won to bribe a single person (a soldier along the border, for example) in order to cross the border. The price goes up as (the North) tightens borderline vigilance,” Kim said.

About the North Korean people’s consciousness that they were being mistreated by the dynastical regime in Pyongyang, Kim said it was still in a “germinal stage.”

Pyongyang has tried to soothe its starving people by promising that food supply will be normalized next year, the deadline Pyongyang has set to become a “strong and prosperous nation.”

“But if the food conditions do not improve next year and turns out that it was all words and no action, people will really turn their backs against the government,” Kim said.

“They will know for sure that they are merely being used by the government. They will think that an individual’s basic rights should be placed above their government and start thinking about why there is such a major gap between what the current regime says and the reality.”

The North Koreans are now starting to learn about the need for a social safety net and how the South Korean society is going about its welfare policies through the limited information they receive from outside, Kim said.

“The third stage will be discussing what they have learned among themselves,” he said.

“Starting from groups of two or three people, the discussions will expand and eventually allow certain groups to take action.”

South Korea has reportedly been making contingency plans for various scenarios including a “sudden change” in the North such as the collapse of the Kim regime that will lead to a massive movement of refugees across the inter-Korean border.

“In case of a sudden change, the South can run a buffer zone just south of the border to temporarily house the refugees and prepare them for life in the South, although blocking the people’s free travel would be another issue,” Kim said.

“But because it would be a temporary measure, I don’t think we need to worry too much about a mass influx of refugees.’

Kim also noted that while preparing for a sudden change or unification, South Koreans should not underestimate the North.

“The South has no nuclear weapons, no inter-continental ballistic missiles, no cyber warfare troops, and most important of all, it suffers from internal conflict,” he said, mentioning an online survey last year that showed that some South Koreans did not trust their own government’s conclusion that the North torpedoed the Cheonan.

Kim said the North was training some 3,000 hackers to attack the IT systems of major South Korean institutions.

The prosecution concluded last month that North Korea was behind the cyber attack that paralyzed the banking system of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, or Nonghyup, in April.

“Our website was attacked in the same way they attacked Nonghyup,” Kim said.

“The North is very good at stirring up social conflict in the South, prompting certain pro-North groups to call on the government to ‘appease the North,’ or send money to Pyongyang. Their aim is to set up a pro-North regime in the South,” Kim said.

As for the “pro-North people” in the South, Kim said they seemed to hold an illusion that the North Korean system might settle their personal grudges or social problems in the South despite the fact that the Kim regime’s ideology has failed in reality.

Kim called on the South Korean government to set up a clear set of rules and conditions regarding the extent of humanitarian aid the South can send to the North in cases of natural disasters, for example, so that emergency aid to the North becomes more transparent.

Read the full story here:
N. Koreans use phones to sneak information out
Korea Herald
Kim So-hyun
2011-6-15

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Women compose 80% of defections

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

In a May 28th article, the Choson Ilbo reported the DPRK’s National Defense Commission (NDC) is trying to make it harder for women to defect by more stringently enforcing domestic travel restrictions.  According to the article:

The North Korean regime has reportedly ordered border guards to stop all women from traveling on railways and roads to the North Korea-China border. The order, which targets all girls and women between 10 and 60, came recently from the powerful National Defense Commission.

Whether the story is true or not remains to be seen, but the article does highlight the significant gender imbalance among North Korean defectors:

More than 400 defectors arrive in South Korea every month, and about 80 percent of them are women.

There are several reasons given for this lopsided sex ratio.  I have supplemented the list of those items and classified them below:

On the supply side (push factors):

1. Women, as the primary bread-winners in the DPRK’s markets (the place to go for unsanctioned rumors), are exposed to more information about the outside world.

2. The DPRK’s efforts to reign in market activity have made many women despondent.

3. Women, who in many cases do not need to appear at an official job every morning, face lower monitoring costs, and thus have an easier time disappearing.

Demand side (pull factors):

1. Since there is a market for North Korean women in China, smugglers have an economic interest in facilitating defections.

2. It is easier for North Korean women to marry South Korean men than for North Korean men to marry South Korean women.

Of course Haggard and Noland have done systematic surveys of North Korean defectors.  You can learn more here.

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Statistics on DPRK migration to the USA

Monday, May 9th, 2011

According to the Joong Ang Daily:

The United States has received 101 North Korean refugees in the past few years under legislation to help improve human rights conditions in the reclusive state, statistics showed Saturday.

The total breaks down to nine for 2006, 22 for 2007, 37 for 2008, 25 for 2009 and eight for 2010, according to figures released Saturday by the Office of Immigration Statistics at the Department of Homeland Security.

Hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees are also believed to be in China.

Most North Korean refugees, fleeing poverty, aim to make their way to South Korea via neighboring China.

South Korea has received more than 20,000 North Korean defectors since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

China has come under criticism for repatriating North Korean refugees under a secret agreement with North Korea, categorizing defectors as economic immigrants rather than refugees, despite the danger of them being persecuted back home.

The North Korean refugees were admitted into the U.S. under the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, which calls for the provision of financial aid to help improve North Korea’s human rights and accept North Korean defectors into the U.S.

In 2008, Congress approved the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act for another four years, calling for “activities to support human rights and democracy and freedom of information in North Korea,” as well as “assistance to North Koreans who are outside North Korea,” and 12-hour daily broadcasting to North Korea.

The 201 Office of Immigration Statistics Annual Flow Report also showed that 73,293 people were admitted to the U.S. as refugees in 2010.

The leading countries of nationality were Iraq (18,016), Burma (16,693) and Bhutan (12,363).


Read the full story here:
U.S. takes 101 North Korean refugees
Joong Ang Daily
2011-5-9

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Migration to Thailand on rise

Friday, May 6th, 2011

According to the Bangkok Post:

Thai authorities have rejected South Korea’s proposal to build a coordination centre to deal with North Koreans illegally entering the country over concerns that it might encourage more inflows of migrants from the communist nation.

South Korea reportedly asked the government early this year to build the centre in Chiang Rai province, a popular entry point for illegal North Korean immigrants into Thailand.

Most of the immigrants have escaped economic hardship in North Korea and travelled to Thailand for temporary refuge in the hope of being able to resettle in third countries, usually South Korea, a source at the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) said.

From October last year until April this year, 899 North Koreans were arrested for illegal entry, said Isoc spokesman Maj Gen Dithaporn Sasamit. The source said South Korea had offered to pay to take care of the illegal migrants. However, the government had turned down the proposal because it had no policy to open a new refugee centre.

The South Korean government has played an important role in helping North Koreans by allowing them to resettle in its country.

Pol Maj Gen Phansak Kasemasanta, deputy chief of the Immigration Bureau, said that North Koreans illegally entering Thailand would be arrested.

After being tried in court, the immigrants would be detained at the Immigration Bureau while awaiting deportation.

The immigrants normally protest at being sent back to North Korea, allowing South Korean officials to step in and help, Pol Maj Gen Phansak said.

He added that instead of building a new centre for the North Korean migrants, South Korea could help improve the present detention centre at the Immigration Bureau.

North Koreans could stay there along with other illegal immigrants from other nations, he said.

According to the Isoc and the Immigration Bureau, North Koreans are normally helped by human trafficking gangs to travel to China.

They are then put on board Chinese cargo boats to Laos before boarding smaller boats or travelling on foot to Chiang Rai’s Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong districts.

“The trips are arranged by gangs made up of North Korean, Chinese and Thai nationals,” said Maj Gen Thawip Bunma, a senior Isoc official.

The Isoc and the Immigration Bureau have been tracking down people involved in the human trafficking gangs.

However, Pol Maj Gen Phansak said police still have no evidence to confirm that Thais were involved.North Korean migrants who have been arrested have told officials that they had to pay at least 100,000 baht to the gangs to help arrange their trips to Thailand.

Most of the migrants were willing to turn themselves in to Thai authorities, seeing it as the first step for them to travel on to the third countries they ultimately wish to settle in.

Read the full story here:
Illegal North Korean migrants on rise
Bangkok Post
2011-5-6

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An affiliate of 38 North