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Journal Article


JheSeongHo. Legal Stud. Inst. Chosun Univ. J. 2013; 20(1): 571-604.


(Copyright © 2013)






North Korean(NK) defectors who take refugee abroad are now under the danger of forced repatriation, human trafficking, exploitation of labor etc. Chinese government is stressing that they are not refugees but only illegal border- crossers. But according to the German term 'Republikflucht'(flight from the republic), NK escapees could be defined as refugees susceptible to persecution because of different political opinion in that they express resisting will at the moment of unlawful departure. The similar conclusion can be drawn when we apply the concept of 'imputed political opinion' to them. Alternatively, NK defectors could be regarded as refugees sur place or mandate refugees in view of practices of UNHCR and recent developments of international law of refugees. Notwithstanding, Chinese coercive and unconditional refoulement of NK fugitives to the DPRK, where they are highly probable to have well-founded fear of being persecuted, must be against the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 to which China is a contracting party. In the mid- or long-term perspective, it is necessary for international society to establish refugee camp to be designated as a specialized UN management area and afford NK defectors temporary refugee status and humanitarian assistance here as a way of securing their safety. If such an official refugee camp program would not be realized easily, a small and unofficial settlement village idea could be considered under the consent or connivance of Chinese government.


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