South Korea is shutting its door to over 1,000 North Korean defectors in Mongolia and Southeast Asia.
Mongolia had been an important transit point for North Koreans seeking to reach South Korea. Most of these refugees crossed into China and made their way to Mongolia.
However, officials believe South Korea is trying to slow the trend of accepting defectors for fear of offending the unpredictable North Korean government. Also, there is concern about a flood of refugees which might swamp South Korea.
Currently there are 11,000 North Koreans who have made their way to South Korea with an additional 2,000 arriving yearly.
"South Korean authorities do everything possible to minimize the arrival of refugees," Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Kookmin University, told The Seattle Times.
While South Korea claims it will accept all North Koreans, it has increasingly become difficult for untrained North Korean workers to be accepted into South Korea.
Also, South Korea recently reduced the initial stipend for refugees to $6,400, with an additional $13,860 or so for housing. However, payments are not being provided unless a North Korean immigrant is employed for at least a year.
There have also been many problems assimilating North Koreans into South Korean society. Adjusting to market capitalism has proven very difficult, as has been the need to re-educate the North Koreans to work in a technologically sophisticated economy.