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Implications: Aside from the human rights groups, there has been limited public outcry against the deportation – potentially reflecting a growing domestic view that North Korea is a distinct and separate country from South Korea. The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea argued that the expulsion is a violation of South Korea’s constitution, which views all Koreans on the peninsula as citizens of South Korea (with rights to due process in South Korea). Nevertheless, the government has stood by its decision, saying that the men’s crimes prevented them from being categorized as refugees. And a professor at Chung-Ang University acknowledged that other foreigners would be sent back to their country if they committed a crime, so the same should be done for North Korea. These positions suggest that North Korea is increasingly viewed as a sovereign country by South Koreans.
Context: The limited criticism in South Korea to the deportation of the North Korean men cannot be attributed to political apathy. South Koreans have congregated time and time again to protest perceived injustices. In the past weeks, South Koreans have turned out to support both sides of the Hong Kong protests. However, no major demonstrations were held over the extradition.
Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Soojin Hwang, Hyoshin Kim, and Rachel Kirsch.
Photo from NVictor’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.