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Two ethnic Koreans born in Japan who fled North Korea and an official of a Japanese nongovernmental organization were taken into custody by Chinese authorities in mid-December and are still being held, the NGO said Tuesday.

Hiroshi Kato, a senior official of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, told a news conference in Tokyo that NGO official Takayuki Noguchi, 32, was helping a female refugee in her 40s and a male escapee in his 50s leave China for a third country when they were caught by Chinese authorities in the southern Chinese city of Nanning, Guangxi Province.

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