North Korean defectors now living in South Korea Seoul are concerned that Pyongyang could demand that defectors be forcibly returned to their homeland as a condition for the resumption of talks with Seoul, and thus that their lives might be at risk.
James Brown, an associate professor at Tokyo’s Temple University, agrees that the aggressive demands that North Korea is making of the South will inevitably be of serious concern to the defector community.
“Moon is under great pressure and clearly wants the talks with the North to resume and succeed, but he built his reputation on being a lawyer for human rights so I doubt he will actually order the repatriation of any defectors,” he said. “I imagine that Pyongyang has reached a similar conclusion, so they will soon ask for something else instead,” he suggested.
And because that request will be more palatable than sending defectors back to a deeply uncertain future, the South may give in to that request. And then, Brown expects, they will make another demand to test Seoul’s resolve.