And what has to be of special concern to Chairman Kim, however, is that Beijing did not stop the defections. The workers did not smuggle themselves out of China, as many had done in the past. On the contrary, they openly left the People’s Republic with their passports, traveling to Thailand before arriving in South Korea.
In the past, Pyongyang could count on Beijing to do almost anything to capture defectors and hand them over to North Korean border guards. This time, however, Chinese customs officials just waved the fleeing workers across the Thai border, a clear indication China was sending an unfriendly message to the Kim regime.
And there is another wrinkle. Offshore restaurant workers generally come from the higher classes and are chosen for their loyalty, so the mass defection from the Ningbo restaurant must now be having a psychological impact on regime elements back home.
Perhaps more escapes are on the way. Seoul expects additional mass defections from the 50,000 to 100,000 North Koreans working outside the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
North Korea appears very far from regime collapse at the moment, but the defection of a senior colonel, a diplomat, and the Restaurant 13 are tremors that could foreshadow quakes to come.
[Read full article at The Daily Beast]