20 N. Korean defectors arrive in S. Korea from Laos: report

Twenty North Korean defectors have recently arrived in Seoul after weeks under the protection of the South Korean Embassy in Laos, a Seoul daily reported Tuesday.

"Twenty North Korean defectors boarded a flight in Vientiane to South Korea recently and arrived in South Korea safely," the Chosun Ilbo quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

The defectors will be resettled in South Korea after being questioned by related authorities, the source said.

The group, which includes children and disabled people, lived together in three rooms of a temporary building in the embassy compound. All are reportedly in good health.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to confirm the report.

"It's our strict position we don't confirm reports on North Korean defectors, mainly for their safety, our relations with the related country and also the operation of our embassy in the related country," Cho Tai Young said during a news briefing.

Their safe arrival follows the high-profile repatriation from Laos to North Korea on May 27 of seven teenage defectors.

Tens of thousands of North Korean defectors are believed to be hiding in China, hoping to travel via Laos and other Southeast Asian countries to South Korea, which is presently home to more than 25,000 North Korean defectors.