North Korean leaders Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un have done a lot to deter defection, in collaboration with Chinese leaders Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping. As one such incentive, North Korea offers those rural Chinese who turn in North Korean defectors 2m3‘s worth of logs per defector captured on Chinese soil and repatriated.
Life as a North Korean defector is rough. Ms. Sohn, a 36-year-old North Korean woman, had lived in South Korea for four years when she had her husband decided to set up a scam defection scheme. They collected brokerage fees from North Korean defectors in South Korea, promising to escort their clients’ families from China to South Korea. But in actuality what they did after receiving the money was convene a total of 43 defectors in China and then arrange for North Korean Embassy officials to come and forcefully repatriate them back to the DPRK.
The couple was rewarded with a vacation in Pyongyang, before returning to their hometown of Hyesan. Upon their return, the people of Hyesan all cursed the woman when they found out what she had done to all these would-be defectors, with curses like: “A thunderbolt will strike that human-garbage devil for putting those innocent people in an unescapable political prison!”
Interestingly enough, the locals in Hyesan didn’t view the defectors as state betrayers, they simply grieved their fates with curses.
The returnee defectors themselves were dragged to a reformatory, this result planting within North Koreans deep grudges against the government.
[Written by Tae-il Shim, is a pseudonym for a North Korean defector who arrived in South Korea in 2018.]