Chiangrai Times –A group of seven North Koreans – one male, five women and a child – had been caught illegally entering Thailand from the Mekong River at Ban Huay Kiang, a Thai-Lao border village in Tambon Wiang by the Mekong River Peace Keeping Force
The Military Patrol then found and arrested a second group of five North Koreans, one male and four females, on the river bank not far from the border village.
The North Koreans, speaking through an interpreter, told officials that they escaped from their country by boarding a Chinese cargo ship. They had travelled along the Mekong and disembarked from the vessel in Laos at a village opposite to Chiang Saen district of Thailand, according to Commodore Sophon.
They had waited several days and then taken a boat across the river to Thailand, planning to request asylum in a third country, he said.
He said North Koreans were using the border area in Chiang Rai as a base for entering Thailand and this affected national security. More than 5,000 North Koreans have been arrested in Chiang Rai over the past five years and charged with illegal entry.
North Koreans frequently come through the small town of Chiang Khong on their quest for freedom.
Here’s how it works
They sneak out of North Korea and enter China and stay there for a week to 6 months while they gather sufficient funds from various help organizations and then get onto the waiting list. It’s then about a ten day trip down through China and Laos. Then a short over night 5 hour mini van ride through Laos and then smuggled across the Mekong and into Chiang Khong. They cross the river about a half mile down from Chiang Khong.
If they are caught in either China of Laos they are deported back to North Korea. BUT once they make it across the river they are free. They find their way to our local police station and then the Thai police find them transportation to Bangkok and the South Korean Embassy. Once into the South Korean Embassy in Bangkok, they are provided air transportation to Seoul. It’s Kind of the long way around from getting from North Korea to South Korea. -Anna Wong CRT