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PacNet #21 – Borders and Boundaries: The North Korean Refugee Crisis

Recent defections by North Korean refugees in China to various embassies – including the Japanese consulate in Shenyang – project in microcosm the nightmare scenario for post-Cold War Northeast Asia: China and Japan facing off to defend conflicting interests, most likely exacerbated by the process of Korean reunification. The current stand-off over respect for diplomatic space versus overzealous pursuit of perceived national interests has raised passions that must not be allowed to overshadow the humanitarian imperatives: The fate of tens of thousands of North Koreans in China who have fled hunger and tyranny of their home country but have no means to reach the safe haven offered by Seoul.