May 3, 2006

North Koreans plan rare defection to US: reports

SEOUL (Reuters) - A group of 10 North Koreans in Southeast
Asian countries are staying at U.S. embassies and want to make
a rare defection to the United States, South Korea's public
broadcaster reported on Wednesday.

North Koreans defectors typically head to South Korea,
where they are granted automatic citizenship and given
assistance to help them settle in the country.

Broadcaster KBS said the North Koreans are seeking to leave
for the United States as early as this week, citing sources at
civic groups that support defectors.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited a U.S. official as
saying there are about eight North Koreans at the U.S.
embassies in Southeast Asian countries seeking refuge in the
United States.

Both reports did not say why the North Koreans wanted to
head to the United States instead of South Korea.

President Bush has paid close attention to the plight of
North Korean refugees. Last week, he invited a family of North
Korean refugees to the Oval Office for a meeting.

South Korean officials would not comment on the reports.