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NKorean defectors in China a sore point in Seoul
SKorean activists take up cause of NKoreans held by China, sore point in Seoul-Beijing ties
By The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) ' Activists and the occasional celebrity have been gathering in front of the Chinese Embassy nearly every day for more than two weeks. Sometimes protesters scuffle with police or tear up pictures of China's president as they demand the release of a group of North Koreans they say China holds.

Beijing has released no details about them: no ages, no names, no descriptions of why they left their homeland. It's not even clear exactly how many are being held, or whether some have already been sent back to an uncertain fate in North Korea.

The issue has become an irritant in relations between Beijing and Seoul since it emerged last month. The two work together on many economic and diplomatic fronts but are often at odds over North Korea.

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