Refugees Southeast Asia

Rising Traffic on the Underground Railroad

NOW THAT THE OLYMPICS ARE OVER, the flow of North Korean defectors into Thailand is on the rise once again.

Thai police statistics quoted by the Japanese daily show a mere 140 North Koreans arrested there between January and August last year. But in the period from September to November after the Beijing Olympics, 250 North Koreans were arrested in 14 areas in northern and northeastern Thailand bordering Burma and Laos.

The number of North Koreans arrested in December and January this year is not known yet, but the paper said a large number of North Korean entered Thailand around the Lunar New Year’s Day, on Jan. 26.

“From January until days before the Olympics began last year, it was difficult for North Korean defectors to move around easily as Chinese authorities had intensified patrols,” it said. “As China has relaxed vigilance after the Olympics, the number of North Korean defectors arriving in Thailand will likely reach 1,000 a year as before.” [Chosun Ilbo]