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The Foreign Ministry has received a demand for a large sum of money from people claiming to be “helping” a 64-year-old Japanese woman married to a North Korean who recently fled to China from the reclusive state, government sources said Wednesday.

The woman, who went to North Korea with her husband in 1959, fled to China in November.

Government sources said the demand for money was made under a Chinese name but gave no further details, including the sum demanded.

Foreign Ministry officials have not decided on how to respond, the sources said.

According to people familiar with the North Korean asylum seekers in waiting in China, the Japanese woman has apparently fallen into the hands of so-called asylum brokers, who demand huge sums of money in return for handing their captives from North Korea to supporters or relevant authorities.

The woman’s husband was reportedly arrested by North Korean authorities and jailed as a political prisoner 10 years after they arrived in Pyongyang. The woman and her two children were later banished to the countryside.

The woman fled North Korea in late November, crossing the Tumen River to China. With the help of a refugee support group, the woman sent an appeal to the Foreign Ministry earlier this month, seeking help to get her out of China.

According to the support group, the woman is living in China with the help of a fellow asylum seeker. from North Korea.

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