Israel accepts two DPRK defectors

According to UPI:

Israel has granted a North Korean couple political asylum because returning home would put them in “serious danger,” government officials said Sunday.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai granted the couple refugee status during the weekend, the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

“The Population and Immigration Authority does all it can to help those who deserve refugee status,” Chaim Ephraim, head of the department that deals with asylum seekers, told the newspaper.

“It was clear to us that had the couple returned to North Korea, their lives would be in serious danger,” he said. “We have reports on severe human rights violations there.”

The unidentified couple, both in their 50s, fled Pyongyang 2 1/2 years ago and made their way to China where they left their son before using forged documents to continue on to Egypt and then to Israel, the report said.

The couple, who settled in Jerusalem, will now be eligible for health and security benefits afforded all Israelis, excluding the right to vote, the newspaper said.

As of a couple of years ago, Israelis were not able to obtain DPRK tourist visas.  I will have to check to see if this is still the case.

Pyongyang has always expressed sympathy for the Palestinian cause and even hosts a Palestinian embassy in the Munsudong Diplomatic District.  According to KCNA:

Reception at Palestinian Embassy

Pyongyang, October 14 [2010] (KCNA) — Palestinian Ambassador to the DPRK Ismail Ahmed Mohamed Hasan hosted a reception at his embassy Thursday in celebration of General Secretary Kim Jong Il’s reelection as general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the 65th anniversary of the WPK.

Present there on invitation were Choe Thae Bok, member of the Political Bureau and secretary of the WPK Central Committee, Kim Yong Jin, chairman of the Education Commission, Hyon Sang Ju, chairman of the C.C., the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea, Ri Chang Gun, vice department director of the WPK Central Committee, Kim Hyong Jun, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, and officials concerned.

The ambassador said at the reception that they are happy to join the Korean people in celebrating Kim Jong Il’s reelection as general secretary of the WPK and its 65th birthday.

The friendly relations between the two countries are further developing under the deep care of Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Abbas, he said, expressing belief that the WPK would perform miracles in all fields under the wise and tested leadership of Kim Jong Il.

Choe Thae Bok said in his speech that it is a great political event to have invariably had Kim Jong Il at the top post of the WPK and the revolution and this strikingly demonstrated the steadfast faith and will of all the servicepersons and people to accomplish the cause of building a thriving socialist power of Juche.

It is the consistent stand of the DPRK government to steadily develop the traditional relations of friendship between the DPRK and Palestine provided by President Kim Il Sung and President Yasser Arafat, he said, adding:

We will extend invariable support and encouragement to the Palestinian people in the just cause of founding an independent sovereign state.

And KCNA published this statment today!

There is also a DPRK-Palestinian Friendship Farm at Oryu-ri in Sadong District (오류리, 사동구역): 38.990682°, 125.879026°

For the record: I am not saying there is any relationship between the DPRK-Palestinian connection and the fact that Israel accepted two North Korean defectors. I only thought this story offered an interesting hook to provide some additional information about the DPRK.

Read the full UPI story here:
Israel grants North Koreans asylum


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