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As many as 19 people believed to be North Korean asylum-seekers tried to climb a fence and enter a South Korean consulate in Beijing on Monday, but only three succeeded, a diplomat and a news report said.

Such asylum bids have become common in China, with North Koreans who are fleeing famine and repression in the communist nation rushing into embassies, schools and other foreign facilities. Chinese officials have allowed many of the asylum-seekers to leave for South Korea.

In Monday's bid, three made it into the consulate, while some of the rest were taken away by Chinese guards and others fled, an Asian diplomat in Beijing and South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said. It wasn't clear how many were caught by police.

Yonhap said 18 North Koreans were involved, while the diplomat, who asked not to be identified further, put the number at 19.

The people scuffled with Chinese guards as they tried to climb a fence outside the consulate, Yonhap said.

South Korean television showed the North Koreans climbing the fence before dawn. Once inside, they unfurled a South Korean flag and shouted, "Let us live!"

Yonhap said two women and one child entered the consulate building asking to go to South Korea. Monday's incident came three days after 29 North Korean asylum-seekers entered South Korean school in Beijing.

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