Report: North Korea defector says life in South miserable

A North Korean defector in the South is demanding the Seoul government allow him to return to his country of origin.


Kwon Chol-nam, a defector who claims a human trafficker helped him to travel to South Korea for about $2,500 in 2014, told The New York Times he is being “treated like dirt” in the wealthier South.

“In the North, I may not be rich, but I would better understand people around me and wouldn’t be treated like dirt as I have been in the South,” Kwon told The Times.
Kwon is the second defector to demand repatriation. His story shares distinct similarities with the account of defector Kim Ryen-hi, a woman who claimed she was tricked into entering the South, and has been working toward repatriation since 2015.

Their stories, however, do not reflect ongoing concerns inside North Korea.

According to a North Korean source in South Hamgyong Province, who spoke to Daily NK in July, it is North Korea’s state security agents who are braving the world outside their borders to track down and kidnap defectors who voluntarily leave the country.

The source said at the time 10 people of the same family were arrested at the “China border” and detained in South Hamgyong Province.

Chinese public security officers were each given a bribe of about $1,500 to repatriate the individuals to North Korea, the report stated.

The family was attempting to reach South Korea, according to Daily NK’s source.

North Korea may be issuing a warning to defectors in the South through the use of other defectors.

In July, Pyongyang’s propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri issued a video showing a North Korean woman, who once resettled in the South, after her return to Pyongyang, condemning her life as a television celebrity.

By Elizabeth Shim