N Koreans beg asylum from French in Vietnam

17th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

HANOI, Dec 19 (AFP) - The French embassy in Hanoi confirmed on Sunday four North Koreans had entered the embassy and asked for asylum.

HANOI, Dec 19 (AFP) - The French embassy in Hanoi confirmed on Sunday four North Koreans had entered the embassy and asked for asylum.

An embassy spokesman did not elaborate on the refugees' exact demands or explain how they reached Hanoi. The group included a man in his 40s and two women and a man in their 20s.

"Four North Koreans entered the embassy in Hanoi Friday," the diplomat said, adding that "Vietnamese authorities have been informed about the case."

According to a South Korean human rights activist, Kim Yo-Han, quoted by Yonhap news agency on Friday, the four had sought the help of South Korean activists working in Vietnam for North Korean refugees before entering the embassy.

The French embassy did not say how the issue would be handled in the days to come.

"It is currently not possible to know when a solution will be found to the issue", the spokesman said.

Vietnam's ministry of foreign affairs was not available for comment.

Chronic food and energy shortages have driven a growing number of North Koreans from their impoverished homeland to seek refuge in South Korea. More than 4,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since 1953.

The number has shot up in the past three years, with more than 1,000 having reached South Korea so far this year.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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