About 100 North Korean refugees detained in a repatriation camp in Tumen, Jilin Province, China, have been on hunger strike since Monday. They are opposing their forced repatriation to North Korea and demanding passage to South Korea.
25-year-old Kang Eun-hee, who ran a restaurant in China, and 38-year-old Park Il-man have been on hunger strike for more than 20 days and their lives may are in danger.
The striking refugees, who account for one third of the total population of the repatriation camp, stopped eating on Monday and have refused medical assistance from camp authorities. They are strongly objecting to Chinese authorities' measures to repatriate them to North Korea.
This sudden organized resistance on the part of the defectors in the camp started after seven refugees -- including two women -- were transferred to the camp on Monday from another detention center in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The seven were arrested trying to cross the border into Vietnam on their way to South Korea.
The seven refugees had gone on collective hunger strike before being transferred from Nanning, and by the time they entered the Jilin camp they had not eaten anything in 20 days and their lives were in danger. This stirred other refugees in Jilin into action.