China has repatriated 22 North Korean defectors who had been arrested in the country since the beginning of the month, a Seoul daily reported Thursday.
"On Nov. 7, five defectors were caught by Chinese police while traveling on a bus near Beijing," an unnamed South Korean activist who supports defectors in China told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
The activist said the five were swiftly repatriated only a day after their arrest and are now being questioned in the North Korean border town of Sinuiju.
Another source in China also said seven other defectors who had been hiding in the northeastern city of Shenyang were arrested on Nov. 2, and 10 others were arrested in the border cities of Yanji and Dandong.
They were handed over to North Korean security forces via customs offices in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, and Chilsong, North Hamgyong Province.
A source in North Korea said that Chinese police have recently been given guidelines to handle North Korean defectors "in the same way they deal with major crimes against the state."