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 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.

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.

Five North Koreans Sail Small Boat to South Korea to Defect

Here is the latest defections from North Korea:

Five North Koreans in a small boat crossed the sea border into South Korean waters Saturday, a Coast Guard official said, in an apparent bid to defect to the South.

The five people, including four men and one woman, have expressed their wish to live in the South as defectors, the Yonhap news agency reported.

“Coast guards guided the boat to safety at (the eastern port of) Mukho,” a South Korean coast guard official told AFP.

Government authorities were questioning the five North Koreans, he added.  [AFP]

You can read more at the link.

North Korean Man Swims Across Mouth of Han River to Defect to South Korea

A second defector has crossed over the DMZ in a week:

A North Korean man defected to South Korea on Sunday after crossing the border, Seoul’s military said.

He was spotted at the northern part of the mouth of the Han River in Gimpo, just west of Seoul, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The JCS said the man, in his early 20s, was spotted around 2:30 a.m. Sunday near the observation post of the Second Marine Division. Questioning is under way to find out what caused him to flee to the South.

The man is said to have swum his way south with plastic foam pieces on both shoulders to stay afloat. The JCS said he was discovered at a particularly narrow stretch in the river.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.