The nine North Koreans, who were no longer able to cope with the lack of food in North Korea, risked their lives to flee their home country for South Korea.
Their hope for a better life was extinguished, however, after they were recently caught in Laos.
Seoul-based news channel YTN reported on Monday that the North Koreans, aged between 15 to 23, were deported to China from Laos, a third country many North Korean defectors enter on their way to South Korea.
The group of youngsters crossed the border into Laos earlier this month, with the help of a South Korean couple they met in China.
The couple, only indentified by their last name Ju, accompanied the group all the way.
The 10-day journey from China to Laos went smoothly, but they were caught at a checkpoint en route to the South Korean embassy located in the capital, Vientiane.
After being detained for about 20 days, the youngsters were deported to China.
"We were blocked from leaving but the kids were allowed to go. Not knowing where the kids went, we called the South Korean embassy here. But the embassy had no idea where they were."
The couple told YTN that they initially planned to make a run for it and take the group to the South Korean embassy, but the embassy convinced them not to do so.
Officials there were reportedly concerned the case might sour diplomatic relations between Laos and South Korea.
The couple says the children and young adults will face extreme punishment when they go back to the North.
"The kids told the officials here that they want to go to South Korea even if they die. Having said such thing, they'll end up dead when they return to the North. We think they'll reach North Korea in the next two to three days so we need to come up with a quick solution."
Activist groups say that, if the South Korean government's lackluster effort to help these North Koreans get to the South proves to be true, Seoul should be strongly criticized for abandoning its moral responsibility.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.