Chinese arrest North Koreans seeking refuge: report

SEOUL (Reuters) - Chinese security forces took into custody four apparent North Korean defectors trying to seek refuge at a South Korean-run school in Beijing, Yonhap news agency reported on Tuesday.

The four -- men and women -- entered the school, hid on its premises and then were chased to the roof by about 30 Chinese security personnel who later arrested the group, the South’s Yonhap cited witnesses and sources as saying.

Three other apparent North Korean defectors tried to enter the school later but were turned back by Chinese security, the report said.

The security forces also scuffled with South Korean diplomats at the scene who protested the detention, Yonhap said. The embassy is considering lodging a formal complaint, the report added.

Chinese officials were not immediately available for comment and a South Korean Foreign Ministry public affairs official in Seoul would not comment on the report.

North Korean defectors who reach South Korean-related offices in third countries are usually given passage to the South, where they are almost always granted citizenship.

China, which typically sees the North Korean asylum seekers as economic refugees, often returns them to North Korea, where they face imprisonment or even death.