Defectors to meet S. Korean officials

Kyodo

Arrangements were under way Thursday for South Korean officials to meet with nine North Korean defectors in Japan to directly confirm their wish to be transferred to South Korea, Japanese officials said.

South Korea has already said it would welcome the nine if they desire to go to the South. Japan plans to send them to South Korea after the necessary procedures are completed.

In June 2007, the last time North Korean defectors arrived in Japan by boat, similar arrangements were made for a family of four who landed in Aomori Prefecture to meet a consul from Seoul’s embassy in Japan before they were sent to the South.

The nine, including three children, were identified as North Korean defectors by Japan on Wednesday, a day after being found adrift aboard a wooden boat off the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. They applied for temporary refuge and have conveyed to Japanese officials their desire to head for South Korea. The group is staying at a government immigration facility in Nagasaki Prefecture.