Likely North Korean defector sneaks across South Korean border to remote Kim Jong Un country

Seoul – The South Korean military said on Monday that a man suspected of being a North Korean who defected to the south had crossed the border on his way back North Korea on new year’s day. The unidentified individual managed to break into the heavily armed demilitarized zone and pass surveillance equipment along the heavily fortified border near the East Sea coast, the military said.

While many North Koreans have defected to the South over the years, documented cases of people sneaking the other way are very rare. The military said the individual was likely a North Korean defector, and various South Korean media reported that he was a former North Korean gymnast who crossed the DMZ from the north by jumping by over a fence about 10 feet high at the end of 2020.

The so-called “Jump Defector” was caught on surveillance video climbing the fence south in November 2020, according to the South Korean military. He has been described as a man in his thirties who worked as a housekeeper after defecting to South Korea. The military said the man caught in new surveillance footage crossing north on Saturday bore a resemblance.

Local media say he would have struggled to adjust to his new life in Seoul, but the motivation for his apparent return to North Korea is still unclear on Monday. He was first reported missing on December 30. After entering North Korea on New Year’s Day, South Korean officials said he was taken away by three North Korean soldiers.

Last year, when a South Korean entered North Korea illegally, he was shot and his body burned. Analysts speculated that North Korean forces had been ordered to take extreme measures lest the man could spread of COVID-19 in North Korea, although it was not clear if he had the coronavirus.


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Jung Gwang Il, founder of the No Chain organization, which helps North Korean defectors settle outside the isolated country, told CBS News that many defectors are struggling to adapt to “highly society. competitive “South Korea and that, surprisingly, many end up regretting the decision to leave the so-called” Hermit Kingdom “.

The growing popularity of South Korean television and films, which cross the border via illegal bootlegs, has encouraged North Koreans to attempt to escape south in the hope of a better life. But the reality is that very few ordinary people can afford to live like those portrayed on South Korean television. For defectors, who are often unqualified to seek well-paying white-collar jobs in the South, the outlook is even bleaker.

North Korean defector turned South Korean MP Ji Seong-ho wrote on Facebook on Monday that many defectors have trouble, with a majority being found in the lowest income brackets in the South.

“My heart is heavy upon hearing that the unidentified person who crossed the border northward through the Goseong area of ​​Gangwon-do on the first day of the New Year was revealed by the media that he was ‘was a North Korean defector who was in economic difficulty, “Ji said.” According to Unification Ministry statistics for 2020, 25% of North Korean defectors have basic life security , and 56% of North Korean defectors… are from low-income groups. “

SKOREA-NKOREA-POLICY
South Korean soldiers patrol along a barbed wire fence marking the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which separates North Korea and South Korea, on the South Korean island of Ganghwa, April 23 2020.

ED JONES / AFP / Getty


Ryu Hyun-woo, former North Korea’s deputy ambassador to Kuwait who in 2019 became the top North Korean official to defect to South Korea in years, told CBS News that even with their track record, he and his wife struggled to build new lives.

“They said I could get a job if I graduated in South Korea, but I couldn’t even pass the first round,” he told CBS News.

Ryu and his wife both graduated from Kim Il Sung University in the North, and he later worked for the Foreign Ministry while his wife looked after the finances of the Kim Dynasty Mausoleum. They believed that their in-depth knowledge of North Korean economy and society would help them find jobs in South Korea, but South Korean society did not welcome them.

They hope their daughter can study in the United States, so that she can find opportunities that they never had.

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