North Koreans economic migrants or political refugees?

China defends the repatriations of North Korean refugees back to North Korea by claiming that the refugees are simply “economic migrants”.

Writes Suzanne Scholte of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, “Yet as soon as a North Korean crosses the border, they immediately fit the definition of a political asylum seeker because it is a crime against the state for a North Korean to leave the country.

“We know from eyewitness testimony that when North Koreans are repatriated they are subjected to harsh sentences, in some cases they are executed.”