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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
N Koreans in embassy 'asylum bid'
Danish embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam
Embassy officials are carrying out checks on the four people
Four North Koreans have entered the Danish embassy in Vietnam in an apparent asylum bid, officials say.

The embassy confirmed that the four had entered the compound in Hanoi saying they were from North Korea. Officials are now checking their details.

Thousands of North Koreans flee hunger or political repression by crossing the border into China every year.

China sends back those it catches, but many others succeed in finding their way to South East Asian nations.

Most hope to eventually be resettled in South Korea.

Hazardous journeys

"Four people, one man and three women, are in the embassy area and they are North Koreans," First Secretary Thomas Jorgensen at the Danish embassy told Reuters news agency.

"We do not yet know who they are or what they want."

According to some reports, the four are a family of two adults and two children.

Activists in South Korea confirmed that the four were from the North, and said they should be allowed to travel on to Seoul.

But it was not clear how the four had arrived in Hanoi.

Many refugees fleeing North Korea are often sheltered during their journey across China by underground Korean networks, as Beijing has an agreement with Pyongyang to send back any it catches.

These underground groups help them get to countries such as Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia, where they can then seek asylum.

Vietnam has cordial relations with both North Korea, a one-time communist ally, and the South, an important investor.

Pyongyang was incensed in 2004 when South Korea airlifted more than 400 North Koreans out of Vietnam.

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