19 North Koreans Arrested at Thai-Burmese Border
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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

19 North Koreans Arrested at Thai-Burmese Border

By SAW YAN NAING Monday, December 22, 2008


Burmese authorities at the frontier town of Tachilek have arrested a group of 19 North Koreans trying to reach neighboring Thailand, according to sources at the border.

A Burmese official told Reuters news agency: “Arrangements are underway to put them on trial for illegal entry. I should say they may get two or three years in jail. I just don't know for sure what will happen to them after that.”

The North Koreans are believed to have been making for the Thai border town of Mai Sai, separated from Tachilek by a river bridge. They were arrested on December 2.

Many North Koreans escape their impoverished homeland by crossing into China and then travelling through Laos and Burma to Thailand, where they hope to get visas to resettle in South Korea.

In April 2007, Burma and North Korea reestablished diplomatic ties broken after North Korean agents plotted a bomb attack against former South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan during an official visit to Rangoon in 1983. About 17 members of the president’s party were killed in the attack.

Last month, the two countries signed documents allowing visa-free travel by diplomats and government officials, according to the Burmese state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar

The agreement was signed in Naypyidaw by North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Young Il and his Burmese counterpart, Kyaw Thu.

A Burmese Foreign Ministry official told Reuters on Sunday that North Koreans who had fled their country for economic reasons in the past were allowed to go to South Korea after serving jail terms in Burma.

"It is a political issue. If North Korea does not intervene, they are more likely to be allowed to go to South Korea,” the official said.

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