Eight people believed to be North Korean refugees clambered over the wall of a Japanese school in Beijing on Monday to seek asylum, a Japanese embassy official said.
The group broke in at 4:00 a.m., setting off a security alarm, and guards alerted the embassy, the official said. South Korea's Yonhap news agency said five women, two children and a man were involved.
A brief struggle took place but the eight had remained inside the grounds and were asking to travel to South Korea, Yonhap said.
"There were eight of them. The security at the school told the embassy and they are now inside the embassy grounds," the embassy official said.
The embassy was making checks to confirm the group were North Koreans, she said.
Beijing's embassies and international schools -- some of which are considered diplomatic property -- have seen a spate of asylum bids by North Koreans seeking passage to the wealthier, democratic South and to escape their impoverished communist homeland.
In December, seven people who said they were North Korean refugees entered the school, seeking passage to South Korea.
A group of 29 people sought asylum at the same school in September.
Human rights groups estimate as many as several hundred thousand North Korean refugees are living near the border in northeastern China.
Despite an agreement with Pyongyang to repatriate them, China has allowed many of those who enter foreign missions to leave for a third country en route to the South, but it has become increasingly outspoken in its condemnation of the break-ins.
This month, Chinese security officials shut down a news conference by a group of South Korean lawmakers to publicize the issue of North Koreans in China, saying their aim was to incite more asylum attempts.
It escalated into a diplomatic incident with Seoul, which summoned China's ambassador in Seoul to protest.
China considers the North Koreans on its territory economic migrants rather than refugees. But the high-profile break-ins nevertheless create a diplomatic headache for Beijing, one of reclusive Pyongyang's few friends.