South Korea detains boat with suspected North Korea defectors

Defectors to the South, a liberal democracy, have a right to citizenship

Koreas Tensions A small wooden boat is towed into a port in Yangyang, South Korea, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023 | AP

South Korea's military has said that they have detained a boat carrying suspected North Korea defectors. A small wooden boat was intercepted by authorities on Tuesday near Sokcho, a city about 51km (32 miles) northeast of Seoul. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the boat was spotted near the country's maritime border. 

Defections by North Koreans have been a sore point in relations between the two Koreas. South Korea accepts those who choose to resettle in the South, but North Korea often says its people are held against their will in the South and demand they be returned, a PTI report reads.

Defectors to the South, a liberal democracy, have a right to citizenship and financial support after being vetted by the intelligence services. The four occupants of the boat expressed their wish to defect to the South.

Defectors to the South have dropped sharply since the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, North Korea increased security at its borders. Defectors have been moving to China too. China, however, considers them economic migrants.

In May, nine people defected. They crossed the western sea boundary in a fishing boat. Since 1953, over 33,000 North Koreans have fled to the South. Defectors who are forced to return face severe punishment or even a death sentence 

-- With PTI inputs

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