May 19, 2006

N.Korean defectors seek U.S. asylum in China

SEOUL (Reuters) - Four North Koreans scaled the wall of a
U.S. consulate in China to seek asylum in the United States,
South Korean media reported on Saturday, the first such
defections since Washington granted refugee status to North
Koreans earlier this month.

Yonhap news agency, citing unnamed sources, said three men
and one woman left South Korea's consulate in the northeastern
city of Shenyang, where they had been given refuge, to enter
the nearby U.S. mission.

Yonhap quoted an unnamed South Korean government source as
saying "some" North Koreans were going through a procedure to
take refuge in the United States.

But the South's foreign ministry declined to confirm the
report, citing its policy of not commenting on individual cases
of North Korean defectors

Earlier this month, six North Koreans were the first to be
granted asylum in the United States under a 2004 U.S. law aimed
at promoting human rights in the isolated North.