31 October 2012

North Korean family makes desperate plea for Australian visa

A North Korean family living in Sydney has made a desperate plea to Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to stop their deportation to South Korea through fear of reprisal from the North.

Australia visa

Mrs Park fears her family will be returned to North Korea if they aren't granted an Australia visa.

Song Park and Dong Kim flew with their son into the country using a fake Australian visa in May last year and now faces deportation to South Korea.

Under Australian immigration law, North Koreans are considered citizens of both North Korea and South Korea, meaning the family will be returned to the South.

However, Mrs Park maintains that the family will face living in poverty as well as constant surveillance and threats from North Korean spies.

"When my son tried to cross over into China in search of me he was caught by North Korean security forces and was tortured so cruelly even though he was young," said Mrs Park.

North Korea's notorious Communist regime does not allow any citizens to leave. Family members of those who do escape often face indefinite imprisonment as retribution.

Mrs Park insists her family in North Korea have been subjected to this fate and fears she will face pressure to return to the North if her family are deported to the South.

Lawyer Chris McArdle is making an impassioned plea on behalf of the family to Mr Bowen.

"This family has had family members disappear from South Korea," said Mr McArdle.

"This family has made credible claims, this family is in danger and it is the Australian government that is sending them back into danger."

While other countries also treat North Korean asylum seekers as dual citizens, Mr McArdle says Australia is the only one which uses this against North Korean asylum seekers.

"The United States very clearly takes [North Korean asylum seekers], Canada takes them, the UK takes them.

"Australia is unique in its repressiveness in this respect."

A spokesperson for the Australian immigration department said people would only be deported when 'the Australian government is satisfied that its international obligations are met'.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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