JERUSALEM, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Israel has granted a North Korean couple political asylum because returning home would put them in "serious danger," government officials said Sunday.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai granted the couple refugee status during the weekend, the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
"The Population and Immigration Authority does all it can to help those who deserve refugee status," Chaim Ephraim, head of the department that deals with asylum seekers, told the newspaper.
"It was clear to us that had the couple returned to North Korea, their lives would be in serious danger," he said. "We have reports on severe human rights violations there."
The unidentified couple, both in their 50s, fled Pyongyang 2 1/2 years ago and made their way to China where they left their son before using forged documents to continue on to Egypt and then to Israel, the report said.
The couple, who settled in Jerusalem, will now be eligible for health and security benefits afforded all Israelis, excluding the right to vote, the newspaper said.