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Refugees Update

[Update: Richardson picks up several other reports to the same effect. Things seem to be moving, and you have to wonder what could happen next now that the word has started to spread.]

The Chosun Ilbo reports fresh signs of progress that the State Department is finally aboard the love train on North Korean refugees.

A group of North Korean defectors in Southeast Asia is reportedly seeking asylum in the United States. In an interview with Korea’s Yonhap News, a U.S. official who asked not to be named said six to eight North Korean refugees wish to enter the U.S. from the Southeast Asian nations where they have fled, adding the exact number could change. Another U.S. official said while a large number of defectors are rumored to be staying in Southeast Asia, only a few wish to settle down in the U.S. He said that they are likely under the protection of U.S. legations there.

Those who are worried about flocks of North Koreans loitering in the Home Depot parking lot will take heart from the fact that most of the refugees want to go to South Korea. That which makes obvious sense for linguistic and cultural reasons, but that also introduces internal South Korean politics into the asylum process.

Michael Horowitz adds that Jay Lefkowitz is playing a role, too (I’ve heard the rumor that they’re cousins, but can’t confirm that and don’t really care all that much). Lefkowitz has yet to accomplish anything tangible, but I’m more hopeful than before. He’s also saying the right things about where U.S. policy is headed.