Most North Korean escapees have a goal of reaching South Korea, but arrivals in the South are at an all-time low due to the pandemic. Not only is it difficult for North Koreans to cross over into China, once there, making their way to a third country has also gotten more difficult. The inability to find a way out of China has resulted in effectively stranding the North Korean escapees in a country that routinely repatriates them to North Korea. The group of escapees sent back to North Korea last week had been awaiting their fate at a prison about 400 kilometers (250 miles) away in Shenyang, some for as long as two years.
“The Dandong customs office was opened just for today and they sent about 50 North Korean escapees back to North Korea on two buses,” the source, a Chinese citizen of Korean descent, said last week.