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9 N. Korean defectors set to arrive in Seoul

All Headlines 09:28 October 04, 2011

SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) -- A group of nine North Korean defectors who have been under protective custody in Japan for nearly three weeks is set to arrive in Seoul on Tuesday by air, a foreign ministry official in Seoul said.

The North Koreans -- six adults and three children -- were found drifting aboard a small wooden boat off Japan's west coast on Sept. 13, in a rare sea defection from the North to Japan.

They have since been under investigation by Japanese authorities, who officially notified South Korea that the North Koreans want to reach Seoul.

The North Korean defectors are scheduled to arrive at South Korea's Incheon International Airport around noon on Tuesday and will be immediately sent to a state-operated temporary base for defectors from the North, the ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

South Korean officials have said their government will handle the issue from a humanitarian perspective and respect the defectors' free will.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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