Seven people claiming to be North Koreans climbed over a barbed-wire fence into the Japanese school in Beijing yesterday seeking passage to South Korea. They carried a sign that...

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BEIJING — Seven people claiming to be North Koreans climbed over a barbed-wire fence into the Japanese school in Beijing yesterday seeking passage to South Korea.

They carried a sign that read in English: “We are North Koreans. We want to go to South Korea. Please help us,” the embassy official said.

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Such asylum bids have become common in China, with North Koreans who are fleeing famine and repression at home rushing into embassies, schools and other foreign facilities.

Embassies are considered foreign territory beyond the reach of Chinese authorities. Schools typically are not.

Video shot by South Korea’s Munhwa Broadcasting Corp. showed the group helping each other over the fence. Dressed in heavy parkas, their breath visible in the cold winter air, they used a ladder to scale a concrete wall topped with a metal fence that surrounds the school.

China is obliged by treaty to send North Koreans home but hasn’t done so in asylum bids that have become public, instead allowing them to go to South Korea via a third country.

In September, 29 people claiming to be North Korean asylum seekers entered the school grounds. Among them, nine were still staying at the Japanese Embassy as of Friday and 20 had left, the embassy official said. He wouldn’t say where the 20 had gone but added: “You can say that all of them have the hope of going to South Korea.”

In related developments:

Japan plans to allow former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui to visit for a sightseeing tour, the government said yesterday, prompting an angry protest from China, which reviles Lee as the former leader of what it considers to be a breakaway Chinese province. The decision prompted the Chinese ambassador to Japan, Wang Yi, to lodge a protest. Last month, Japan mobilized its navy for the first time in five years after a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine intruded into its waters. Japanese officials said Beijing later apologized and that China had called the intrusion a mistake.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has nominated Hong Seok-hyun, chairman and publisher of the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper and president of the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers, as ambassador to the United States, South Korea’s state-run KBS television said yesterday. Educated at Seoul National University and Stanford University, Hong was formerly an economist at the World Bank.