where they were granted asylum following a worldwide prayer campaign and international diplomatic pressure that involved five countries. The group, including six families and two orphaned girls, had earlier spend a four day stopover in Manila, after the Chinese authorities allowed them to leave the Spanish Embassy in China’s capital Beijing.
Last week, the North Koreans stormed the Spanish embassy, threatening to commit suicide if they were returned to Stalinist North Korea.
One of the defectors, Lee Song, told reporters in the airport of Seoul that the group wanted to live in freedom and hope in South Korea. The group will have to undergo a mandatory three-month adjustment program before blending into South Korea’s capitalist society, the Voice of America said.
Officials say the program will teach the North Koreans lifestyle tools, including how to open a bank account and how to use the subway system and personal computers.
In an earlier statement obtained by BosNewsLife Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) thanked its prayer partners for their support. "Praise God for such a swift and wonderful outcome to what could have been a very difficult situation."
However the organization has also expressed concern about those staying behind in North Korea. This month CSW launched what it described as "an urgent prayer campaign" for 15 North Korean defectors who were detained by the Chinese authorities along with four men who helped them to escape.
"It is feared that the four men will be charged with serious crimes under Chinese law. There is particular concern for one man who was a North Korean citizen… The Chinese have a policy of repatriating North Koreans and we fear he will to be deemed a traitor and shot if sent back," CSW said.
The organization said that the group of fifteen North Koreans have already been sent back to North Korea, "where they will almost certainly face torture and imprisonment." CSW investigators point out that those who are found to have been in contact with South Koreans and Christians are picked out for especially harsh treatment.
"Some are executed by firing squad after torture, others are sent to the horrific prisoner camps where they and their family may be worked to death." It is believed that 150,000 North Koreans live on the Chinese site of the border, often in fear of being captured by border guards.
China has made it clear that it views North Korean defectors as "economical refugees" with no right to seek asylum on political or religious grounds.