9 North Korean defectors may have been executed upon return: report

Nine young North Korean defectors may have been executed upon their return from Laos, according to several media reports.

The escapees — aged 15 to 23 — were deported back to North Korea after a dangerous mission for freedom that had taken as long as four years for some of them, the Daily Mail reported.


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The UN has condemned the decision by Laos, while the South Korean missionaries who tried to help the defectors make their escape are outraged at their own government’s inaction, the report said.

When the missionaries, who preferred to remain anonymous, first met the defectors in December 2009, many were badly malnourished and frostbitten after living as fugitives in China, the Daily Mail said.

“They look for fish bones and rice to mix together to make into porridge,” a missionary told CNN. “Then they eat toothpaste to help them digest it.”

“All of them seemed to have suffered from tuberculosis, and as they were malnourished their growth had been stunted,” the missionary added.

The missionaries helped to sneak them across the border from China to Laos.

According to the United Nations all nine defectors were deported back to North Korea via China after they turned themselves over to authorities in Laos seeking asylum.

They were last seen on North Korean state television, “where they said they had been tricked into leaving the country and thanked Kim Jong Un for welcoming them back,” the Daily Mail said.

Defectors who return to North Korea, including their families, are often imprisoned for life, tortured or even executed. 

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