Nine North Korean Defectors Arrive in Seoul

Posted October 4th, 2011 at 3:30 am (UTC-5)
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Nine North Korean defectors arrived in South Korea Tuesday, three weeks after leaving their country in a rare seaborne defection.

The six adults and three children had been held in a Japanese immigration facility since they were discovered September 13 drifting in a small boat near the port city of Kanazawa.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fukumura said the delay in transferring the defectors was caused by the need to question them one by one.

He said officials learned a lot from the defectors, but he could not disclose what that was.

The group, which spent five days at sea before their rescue, is led by a man who says he has worked with the North Korean military.

In Seoul, the group was expected to be taken to a resettlement center for North Korea defectors. South Korean officials say they will handle the matter from a humanitarian perspective, and in accordance with the defectors' wishes.

In a similar case four years ago, Japan sent a family of four North Korean defectors to South Korea after a two-week investigation.

Hundreds of North Koreans defect each year to the South, mainly by crossing over the North's border with China.