Friday, March 15, 2002
My favorite story of the day, and I saw a little snippet of video on one of the networks of it, was the mad dash made by 25 North Koreans into the Spanish embassy in China.
BEIJING, March 14 – A group of 25 North Koreans, threatening suicide and claiming they faced starvation and oppression at home, burst into the grounds of the Spanish Embassy today and demanded political asylum.
A German doctor who helped organize the break-in vowed that it was the beginning of an underground railroad from North Korea to the outside world.
Masquerading as a tour group, the band, all sporting black hats, walked down a side street in one of Beijing's embassy districts, and then rushed through open embassy gates just behind a van, witnesses said. A Chinese policeman tackled one refugee at the gate but the man broke through, leaving the guard with only his hat. Once inside the embassy, the group erupted in a raucous cheer.
Although, China has an agreement with North Korea that any "refugees" will be returned there (to be tortured and killed), it appears that China isn't going to do that.
China's foreign ministry reacted swiftly to the incident announcing that it did not regard the North Koreans as refugees, and thereby liable to protection under international covenants. However, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said China was "in contact with the relevant parties so as to find a proper solution to the issues" – a remark that led some diplomats to conclude that, like last time, China was willing to let the North Koreans leave China.
But the very best part of the story was easy to miss.
Diplomatic sources said the group of 25, including six families plus two orphaned girls, then descended on the kitchen of the Spanish ambassador's residence, also on the grounds, and ate all of the food that was to be served tonight at a banquet for a Chinese minister.