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S. Korea says 300 North refugees in its embassies

SEOUL -- Nearly 300 North Korean refugees are currently holed up in South Korean overseas missions having fled their communist homeland, official data showed Thursday.

In a report to parliament, the foreign ministry said there were 295 North Korean citizens being housed in South Korean embassies and consulates — the majority of them in Southeast Asia.

Since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, more than 23,500 North Koreans have arrived in the South, mostly via China.

They often travel quickly on from China to Southeast Asian countries where they feel safer, due to China's policy of repatriating refugees caught crossing the border.

Most face a long stay in South Korean missions, given the tough screening process they must go through before being considered for permanent resettlement in the South.

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