[The Wall Street Journal] China Appears to Have Repatriated North Koreans Despite International Pressure

11 Dec 2023

On October 13, The Wall Street Journal covered China's recent repatriation of North Koreans from its northeastern provinces back to North Korea. The measure came after North Korea reopened its borders, which had been closed for three years due to COVID-19. Although the Chinese government emphasized its adherence to international law and humanitarianism, it denies the presence of North Korean escapees on its soil. The repatriation has prompted criticism from international bodies and calls for Beijing to reconsider, especially given the harsh realities that repatriated North Koreans face. The situation reflects a broader trend of decreased escape due to tightened border controls and advanced surveillance technologies like facial recognition used by China.

The testimony from Hanna Song, NKDB's Director of International Cooperation, to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) in June is mentioned in this article. It also presents data from NKDB's Unified Human Rights Database that was introduced during NKDB's joint press conference with South Korean Assemblyperson Choe Jaehyeong on August 16.

More than 8,000 North Koreans have been repatriated in the past, with 98% of the cases sent from China, according to the Seoul-based Database Center for North Korean Human Rights. In contrast, some 34,000 North Koreans have relocated to South Korea in recent decades.


Beijing’s increasing use of facial-recognition technology has suppressed the outflow of North Koreans, by making it extremely difficult for them to avoid being identified and repatriated, said Hanna Song, director of international cooperation at the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, during a U.S. congressional hearing in July.

You can read the full article on The Wall Street Journal website by clicking HERE.