COPENHAGEN - Nine North Koreans who took refuge in Denmark's embassy in Hanoi nearly four weeks ago have left the mission and are on their way to South Korea, a Danish consular official said Tuesday.
The group entered the embassy in the Vietnamese capital on September 24 seeking asylum after leaving their impoverished and isolated country.
We can confirm that the nine North Koreans left the Danish embassy in Hanoi and have left Vietnam, and they are on the way to South Korea, Charlotte Slente, head of the department for consular services at Denmark's Foreign Ministry, told Reuters.
They left early today, and we cannot give any more details about their travel plans, Slente said. Vietnam had to accept that they could leave, she added.
More than 16,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, almost all in the past 10 years, according to the South's Unification Ministry.
A statement the asylum seekers took with them into the embassy said the nine -- a couple, a mother and daughter and five individuals -- had fled North Korea at separate times from different locations in search of food and freedom from oppression, according to a copy seen by Reuters.
(Reporting by John Acher; Editing by Hans Peters)