Thu, Jul 31, 2003 - Page 1 News List

N Korean woman fails in political asylum bid

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A North Korean woman who arrived early yesterday in Taiwan on a Panama-registered cargo ship has had her request for seek political asylum turned down.

The woman, identified as 32-year-old Park Young-sil, is being kept on the Basic Spirits, a cargo ship which anchors in Kaohsiung harbor. It is the same ship that brought her to Taiwan and she is very likely to leave with the ship for its final destination in South Korea.

If Park Young-sil goes with the ship to South Korea, she might ask for political asylum again from Seoul.

Park Jong-bum, assistant representative of the South Korean representative office in Taiwan, responded to the incident by saying that they will respect Taiwan authorities' handling of the North Korean's request to stay here.

"We hope the incident can be solved in a satisfactory way," Park Jong-bum said in a phone interview.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has kept a low profile in the matter. It was inclined to leave the matter to be handled by South Korea, since the cargo ship will leave for South Korea after the short stop in Taiwan.

The captain of the Basic Spirits happens to be a South Korean, who rescued Park Young-sil near a harbor in China's Shantung Province on July 11. After getting the woman on board, the captain sailed the ship, according to schedule, first to Australia and then to Taiwan.

An official with MOFA said information shows the North Korean woman has jumped twice from Chinese harbors into seas in an attempt to get rescued by foreign ships passing by.

The woman was sent back to North Korea after the first attempt to get rescued and carried away to a foreign country by the ship which discovered her at sea.

This is her second try to gain for political asylum from any country that the ship that rescues her happens to stop by.

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