In 2008, Ryu En Nam, a North Korean defector, was extradited from Russia and executed. He was tied to the train going back to North Korea.
“It was horrible. The train started moving and for as long as he could, Ryu En Nam ran with it,” human rights lawyer Lubov Tataretz said, a few years after she tried and failed to prevent Ryu En Nam’s extradition.
Under a recently-signed treaty, the few asylum seekers who manage to escape the hermit kingdom and make it to Russia will be forcibly repatriated, to a country where prison inmates have to burn bodies of those who starve to death and use the remains as fertilizer.
Many of the North Koreans who defect to Russia do so after being exported by their motherland to work as construction workers or lumberjacks in Russia’s far east.
Russia’s Federal Migration Service’s past treatment of North Korea refugees is not encouraging: Over the past decade, 200 North Koreans applied for Russian refugee status. Only two were successful.