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Political Economy



Sweden ponders what to do with North Korean refugees in Sweden as the North and South Koreas talk war

Monday, 01 April 2013
Sweden has thought of repatriating some North Korea refugees back to South Korea although the two countries are currently taking war. But that situation can change if an all out war break out.

Radio Sweden reports that the tense situation on the Korean peninsula could lead Sweden to change its treatment of North Korean refugees currently in the country and send them to South Korea where they are entitled to have citizenship there.

Every year, dozens of North Korean refugees find themselves to Sweden where the Swedish migration Board's asylum system is forced to assess its ability to either grant them asylum in Sweden or in another country. For these North Koreans, South Korea's constitution provides that virtually all North Korean refugees be entitled to South Korean citizenship.

"It is clear that if there was to be a war, where there is intense fighting between South and North Korea, then we would end up in a different location," says Fredrik Beijer, who is the Director of Legal Affairs at the Swedish Migration Board to radio Sweden.

Therefore, expelled North Korean refugees from Sweden will typically go to South Korea, something described as a unique situation, according to Fredrik Beijer of the Swedish Migration Board.

However, with the increasing hostile rhetoric from North Korea against South Korea, a different type of anxiety is being created.

Radio Sweden cites a North Korean family living in Småland,  in Sweden waiting right now to be sent to back to South Korea - against their will. The mother of the family, Sook Young, says that South Korea is full of spies from the neighbouring North whose task is to identify refugees so that the regime would heap heavy punishment on the families who are still in North Korea.

If the situation on the Korean Peninsula escalates to war, then the Migration Board would change the special rules relating to North Korean refugees.
Nevertheless, before then the current regulatory framework still applies, and the North Koreans in Sweden must prepare to become a Korean citizen.

"In the current situation, we see that South Korea, at least for the moment, is a country that is not in combat. So we believe that we cannot do otherwise," says Swedish Migration Board's Legal Counsel, Fredrik Beijer.
By Team

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