Washington Post Interviews 25 North Koreans Who Explain What Life is Like Under Kim Jong-un

The Washington Post has an article published that features interviews with 25 recently defected North Koreans that explains what life is like under the Kim Jong-un regime.  I did not read anything I did not already know, but it is an interesting article none the less:

When Kim Jong Un became the leader of North Korea almost six years ago, many North Koreans thought that their lives were going to improve. He offered the hope of generational change in the world’s longest-running communist dynasty. After all, he was so young. A millennial. Someone with experience of the outside world.

But the “Great Successor,” as he is called by the regime, has turned out to be every bit as brutal as his father and grandfather before him. Even as he has allowed greater economic freedom, he has tried to seal the country off more than ever, tightening security along the border with China and stepping up the punishments for those who dare to try to cross it. And at home, freedom of speech, and of thought, is still a mirage.

In six months of interviews in South Korea and Thailand, The Washington Post talked with more than 25 North Koreans from different walks of life who lived in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea and managed to escape from it. In barbecue restaurants, cramped apartments and hotel rooms, these refugees provided the fullest account to date of daily life inside North Korea and how it has changed, and how it hasn’t, since Kim took over from his father, Kim Jong Il, at the end of 2011. Many are from the northern parts of the country that border China — the part of North Korea where life is toughest, and where knowledge about the outside world just across the river is most widespread — and are from the relatively small segment of the population that is prepared to take the risks involved in trying to escape.  [Washington Post]

You can read the rest at the link, but a major theme from the interviews is that the market economy is providing for the daily needs of people and not the regime.  Also people are leaving North Korea now not because of hunger but of disillusionment brought on by the regime’s activities and information from the outside world.  I look at this as validation of why an aggressive information war should be fought within North Korea to cause further disillusionment with the regime.

North Korean Soldier Is Shot After Rare Defection in the Joint Security Area

Here is something that continues to be a rare occurrence:

Wounded North Korean soldier who defected across the DMZ is rushed to the hospital. [Korea Times]

A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea through the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the Demilitarized Zone, Monday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

He received gunshot wounds to the shoulder and elbow from North Korean forces while defecting. The soldier was airlifted by a United Nations Command helicopter to a hospital for treatment after arriving in South Korea, the military said.

“A North Korean soldier defected from a guard post on the North Korean side of the JSA toward our side at 3:31 p.m.,” according to a military official.

After hearing several rounds of gunfire, the South Korean military found him fallen and bleeding on the southern side of the JSA, 25 minutes later, according to the military. He was unarmed and wearing a combat uniform for a low rank, with his identity yet to be found, the military also said.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but North Korean soldiers stationed at the Joint Security Area are chosen for their family’s loyalty to the regime.  Assuredly this soldier’s family will be the ones that pay the consequences for his defection.

North Korean Defector Couple Goes Missing In China

It looks like this defector couple may have repatriated themselves back to North Korea:

This image captured from footage by North Korea’s propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri on Aug. 28, 2017, shows Lim Ji-hyun, a North Korea woman who defected to South Korea in 2014 and returned home in June. In a video, she condemned South Korean TV programs featuring North Korean refugees. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

South Korea is looking into the whereabouts of a North Korean defector couple amid speculation that they may have voluntarily returned to North Korea via China, Seoul’s unification ministry said Monday.

A local cable TV channel reported Sunday that the 30-something defector couple could not be reached after they left for China in mid-October.

“As they fell out of touch after leaving for China, authorities are investigating the case,” Baik Tae-hyun, ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing.

It cannot not be confirmed if they voluntarily re-entered North Korea unless they appear on the North’s propaganda outlets to say so.

The ministry said that 26 North Korean defectors have gone back to the North so far. The number of North Koreans coming to South Korea stood at 31,093 as of end-September.

In mid-July, a North Korean female defector appeared in a propaganda video, saying she returned to North Korea in June after suffering “physically and mentally” in the capitalist South.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Defector Describes Sex Slaves and Brutal Executions in North Korea

As with many of these defector accounts it is impossible to know how true the claims really are:

A North Korean defector has told of Kim Jong Un’s teen sex slaves, lavish caviar lunches and gory public executions. Hee Yeon Lim, 26, is the daughter of a high-ranking soldier from Pyongyang and a member of the regime’s inner circle.

But when her father, Col. Wui Yeon Lim, 51, passed away, she and her family decided to flee the country in 2015. Now in South Korea, Hee Yeon has spoken of what life was like inside the secretive rogue state.

She told the Mirror she saw “terrible things” in her home city of Pyongyang despite her family’s relative privilege. She said officials came to her school to pick out teen schoolgirls to work at the chubby dictator’s homes. The escapee said they would only choose the prettiest girls, who were taught to feed him caviar and massage him.

If they refused, they would “disappear,” she said.

Hee Yeon — who has met the despot — also told how he would dine out on imported delicacies like caviar and Chinese “bird’s nest soup,” which can cost $2,700 a kilo (2.2 pounds).

And she described one occasion when she was forced to watch as a group of 11 musicians accused of making a pornographic video were slaughtered. Hee Yeon told how she and her classmates were ordered out of their classrooms in the middle of the day by soldiers who took them to a stadium at the city’s Military Academy.

She said the hooded and gagged victims were brought out and tied to the end of anti-aircraft guns in front of some 10,000 spectators. The escapee then recalled how the guns were fired one by one, saying: “The musicians just disappeared each time the guns were fired into them.  [New York Post]

You can read more at the link.

North Korean Defector Claims South Koreans are American Puppets in Interview

I would not be surprised if this guy is a North Korean plant in South Korea to say propaganda like what is in this article or is being told to say these things for fear of harm to family members back in North Korea.  It is like he is just repeating things straight from the Uriminzokkiri Twitter account:

Five years into his resettlement, the defector says the social environment is so different from the North that calls for unification no longer ring true for him.

“It’s better there is no unification,” he said. “If unification takes place now, only civil war and chaos would erupt,” as South Korea is not ready to deal with a flood of refugees coming to Seoul in the event of the Kim regime’s collapse.

He said discrimination is an obstacle and his fellow defectors struggle in menial jobs.

It is frosty indifference that is the greatest barrier to adjustment, he said, suggesting the real “nuclear” catastrophe on the peninsula has already happened with the nuclearization of Korean lives.

South Koreans “take no interest in your life,” he said. “There is not one person who wants to be your friend. In apartment buildings here, they do not even know who their next-door neighbors are.”

By contrast, in North Korean apartment communities, families “gather on the rooftop to play together, drink soju together and eat,” he said. “In South Korea you cannot have that kind of enjoyment. South Koreans only seek you out when they need you.”

He also criticized South Korea’s politics.

“South Korea has no ideology of its own,” he said.

“I came hoping to contribute to the healing of a divided country…but after living here I think it’s accurate to say South Koreans are [American] puppets,” he added, using the term commonly used to refer to South Korea in North Korea propaganda.

He also said South Koreans fear being at odds with the United States. “That’s why Americans don’t even regard [South] Koreans as human beings, or Asians in general,” he said.  [UPI]

Here is what he had to say about defectors who have testified about human rights abuses:

“There’s too much focus on North Korea’s human rights abuses, too little on how it is a society constructed for the people,” he said, adding the defectors who expose human rights violations represent the worst of North Korean society.

“If you only bring together people who spent time in prison, all you get is the gutter,” he said, adding that many defector testimonies in United Nations Commission of Inquiry reports are “lies.”

“They should all be put away.”  [UPI]

You can read more at the link.