YANGON, Myanmar, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Myanmar authorities say they have released 19 North Korean defectors detained last month as they tried to flee to South Korea.
The defectors were sent to neighboring Thailand, the Voice of America reported, quoting authorities in Myanmar, formerly called Burma.
The report said the defectors were trying to reach South Korea by passing through China and Southeast Asia but were detained in Myanmar early last month and accused of illegal immigration.
South Korean officials said the defectors will be allowed into the country.
The report said more North Koreans are trying to flee their desperately poor country and go to South Korea through Southeast Asia after crossing China.
VOA said about 14,000 North Korean defectors have resettled in South Korea, where they automatically become eligible for citizenship.
Although Myanmar broke off diplomatic relations with North Korea in 1983, CNN reported the two sides have begun contacts in recent times.