North Koreans who defected but later changed their minds and returned to the North are giving lectures in towns and cities on the Chinese border extolling the pleasures of life under Kim Jong-un and the misery of being on the run in China and struggling to survive in a capitalist state.
The lectures are part of the North Korean government’s efforts to halt the steady flow of its citizens over the border into China, from where they attempt to reach a third country and seek asylum and the assistance of Seoul to settle in South Korea. The use of double-defectors is designed to reinforce the regime’s message that many who flee the North regret their decision.
A North Korean who attended a recent lecture in the city of Hoeryong, which is on the Tumen River that marks the border with China, said a double-defector in her 40s said she had not been able to earn any money after she had crossed the border and that she could not even go to a hospital when she was taken ill. The woman said she had been discriminated against the entire time she had been outside the North, adding that she was “treated as less than human” and that she became a perpetual “social outcast”.
The double-defectors’ lectures have hammered home the message that it is difficult to earn enough money to survive in China and that there is a high likelihood of women being sexually exploited. People-smugglers are known to sell young women to Chinese farmers looking for a bride or into the sex industry.
The woman added in her lecture that she had been surprised after returning to the North at “how fast our country is developing”.
Similar lectures were delivered to women working in farms and factories across Onsong County and at the Musan mine, the Seoul-based Daily NK news site reported.