South Korea's Unification Ministry says a total of 1,054 North Koreans sought asylum in the first seven months of the year.
Most North Korean asylum seekers flee to Southeast Asia or to China. China, however, considers them to be illegal economic migrants and says it is obligated by bilateral treaties to send the refugees back to North Korea.
Authorities in Thailand today said they detained 175 North Koreans on August 22 for illegally entering the country. The authorities in Bangkok say the refugees will not be forced to return to North Korea if found guilty of illegally entering Thailand.