Sunday, January 3, 2010

Philippines declares shipwrecked North Koreans as "legal aliens"

Since I've been on an vacation-imposed "news blackout" of sorts, I don't know if this is new or something I missed from hours or even days ago, but it seems that Manila is caught up in some business regarding North Koreans who survived a "sea accident" off their northern coast:
Authorities yesterday declared the 22 North Koreans who have survived from a sea accident off northern Cagayan the other day as legal aliens.

Cagayan Valley police director Chief Superintendent Roberto Damian said the foreigners were rescued ashore after their cargo ship carrying tons of magnetite ran aground off Cagayan along the South China Sea coast.

“The Korean nationals have the proper documents and they are staying in the country legally,” said Damian, amid speculations that the said foreigners were engaging in the reported illegal mining activities in the country’s northern coast.

Among the Koreans who survived from the possible tragedy were Chol Hwan Jong, Jong Choe, Kun Sik Choe, Jong Su Ri, Tong Kim, Chol Kim, Yong Min Ham, Kwang Su Choe, Man Jin Han, Chol Ho Pak, Chol Jon, Chol Ung Rim, Kwang Chol Jong, Ki Ung Jon, Chol Sun Han, Il Nam Jo, Hak Gwan An, Tong Il Kim, Chul Il Pak, Hae Yong Ro and Jong Gil Jang.

The Koreans, who were transporting 2,165 metric tons of magnetite ore to China, have managed to extricate themselves from their troubled ship before dawn of Jan. 1.
I always wonder about the backstory to these things. Were they illegally mining in the Philippines? Did they or do they have the intent of using their "legal" status and to defect? Is Manila's declaration a step toward protecting them? What kind of economic activity, if any, is Manila allowing the North Koreans to engage in, and is this undermining efforts by Seoul, Washington, and the UN to reign in Pyongyang's illicit activities or evil rule?

I also wonder about the wisdom of naming all twenty-two of them and their ship in the article. That is, if they are trying to defect (though that would certainly be information Pyongyang could find eventually).

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