An order was issued in 2012 after my eldest daughter defected from North Korea … decreeing that any family member of a defector or missing person can’t be the head of an inminban. In truth, it is difficult to lead an inminban if a family member has defected. You have to tell people to “keep an eye on people so they don’t defect” and “report any strangers in the neighborhood”, so you lose all credibility once you have someone defect from your family. So the order came down and I was dismissed from my position.
[After I was relieved of my position as inminban] I felt people were talking behind my back and pointing fingers when I went outside. It was very difficult to go out during the day for a period of time. I no longer wanted to live there. I asked myself how I could continue living in a place where I’m constantly weighed down.
They placed informants to keep tabs on our daily life. One of my workers I hired confessed to me one day that the MSS ordered them to keep tight surveillance on my house for 25 days. The worker told me that they were looking to see if I would run [defect] or if strangers were coming to my house.
My husband was an extremely loyal follower. Whenever I spoke to my daughter on the phone or received money from her, my husband would stir up a fuss and say he would report me. My husband was a cadre but he was dismissed after my daughter’s defection. He was understandably upset over it and harbored some resentment. Our relationship began deteriorating. My husband started drinking every day and threatened to hit me. Seeing my husband turn into that kind of person made me shake my head over and over.
Then my daughter phoned me one day and told me, “If you don’t come now, it will be almost impossible later”. I escaped North Korea in the summer of 2015, and arrived in South Korea in 2016.
[From the testimony of Ms. Moon Mi Hwa, as published in The Daily NK]