CHIANG RAI – Provincial marines in Chiang Saen have detained 15 North Korean nationals for illegal entry after they crossed the Mekong on a boat from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
The North Koreans were apprehended as they walked from the Mekong River to a town in Wiang Sub-district, Chiang Saen District, an official said, citing witnesses as saying the Laotian boat that transported them sped back to the opposite river bank after dropping off the passengers.
Shortly after their arrest, the illegal immigrants were brought to Chiang Saen immigration for interrogations, to find the persons who lured them into the illegal transit.
Initial inquiries revealed that the immigrants traveled from the North Korean border town of Hamgyong-bukto to the neighboring China before taking a boat from Yunnan on the Mekong River to sail to Laos and Thailand, where they expected to be sent to a third country.
South Korea reportedly asked the government early this year to build a refugee centre in Chiang Rai province, a popular entry point for illegal North Korean immigrants into Thailand. Thai authorities rejected South Korea’s proposal to build a coordination centre to deal with North Koreans illegally entering the country over concerns that it might encourage more inflows of migrants from the communist nation.
The source said South Korea had offered to pay to take care of the illegal migrants. However, the government had turned down the proposal because it had no policy to open a new refugee centre. The South Korean government has played an important role in helping North Koreans by allowing them to resettle in its country.
Chief of the Immigration Bureau in Thailand, said that North Koreans illegally entering Thailand would be arrested.After being tried in court, the immigrants would be detained at the Immigration Bureau while awaiting deportation. The immigrants normally protest at being sent back to North Korea, allowing South Korean officials to step in and help.
Chief of the Immigration Bureau in Thailand added that instead of building a new centre for the North Korean migrants, South Korea could help improve the present detention centre at the Immigration Bureau. North Koreans could stay there along with other illegal immigrants from other nations.