My grandma had made it to South Korea and wired us money through Chinese brokers. The government cannot track where the money is coming from when it is transferred, but they were suspicious of the money so our family was heavily watched.
My mom, my sister and I made our escape first. We crossed the Tumen River, walked through China and eventually got on a bus that took us south.
Something went wrong in my father’s escape, however. He took a different route and was captured in Mongolia.
For North Koreans captured in China, the punishment is not as severe as it is if one is discovered in Mongolia. If a North Korean is seen in China, it is possible that they are just trying to find a job. If one makes it as far as Mongolia, however, it is quite obvious that they are trying to escape.
I have not heard from my father since we left (2008), and I do not know how he is doing.