Asylum issues, and the treatment of refugees and internally displaced persons, are a major historical and contemporary concern for every country in mainland Southeast Asia.

Today, Australia’s most readable broadsheet, The Sydney Morning Herald, carries an article about North Korean asylum seekers facing court in Bangkok. According to the report, “They had made their way, in small groups, across China and Laos into northern Thailand, arriving without documents”.

Lieutenant-General Suwat Tumrongsiskul, the head of Thailand’s Immigration Police is paraphrased as saying that, “North Korean illegal immigrants are treated differently to illegal Burmese arrivals”. For that quote, and others, this article is worth a read.

I can only imagine the stories from their journey across China and Laos, through northern Thailand, and down to Bangkok.

For an enterprising Korean-speaking student there could be a fascinating research topic here – probing the phenomenon of North Korean asylum seekers who make it to Southeast Asia.