Wed, Jun 02, 2004 - Page 5 News List

N. Koreans invade school to ask asylum in Beijing

BEIJING , AP

Six North Korean asylum seekers entered a German-run school Tuesday in Beijing, but one was turned away by diplomats, an activist and South Korean news reports said.

The five men and one woman entered the school at about 5:30am, said Norbert Vollertsen, a German physician in Seoul and prominent activist for North Korean asylum seekers.

They were moved later to the German Embassy, according to an official who refused to be identified by name.

The official wouldn't confirm whether one North Korean had been turned away.

Hundreds of North Koreans fleeing repression at home have been allowed to leave for rival South Korea after seeking asylum in embassies and other foreign offices in China. Thousands more live in hiding in China's northeast.

China, an ally of the isolated North, refuses to recognize the asylum seekers as refugees. It is bound by treaty to send them home, but hasn't done so in cases that became public.

Vollertsen identified the others as four workers from Chongjin and a miner from Moosan.

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