A group of North Korean defectors were arrested on Tuesday by the Chinese military while trying to reach the China-Laos border, a source said.
"Eleven North Koreans were travelling in a bus driven by a Chinese guide. They were stopped and arrested by the Chinese military near the Laos border at 7:50 a.m. (local time), and then transferred to Kunming, Yunnan Province," the source said.
The group of children and middle-aged men and women were believed to have been trying to cross the border into Laos, he added.
The North Koreans are expected to be moved to Dandong, Liaoning Province, near the North Korean border, and will be deported to their origin country.
The South Korean government said it was attempting to verify the report.
"We will check their location and other facts, and take appropriate diplomatic measures," a government official said.
Kunming is a common assembly point for North Korean defectors who are en route to safer Southeast Asian countries from China. (Yonhap)