What do defectors miss most their lives in North Korea?

Family, friends and strong sense of community among things defectors miss about North Korea
April 18th, 2014

Although many defectors feel they had no choice but to leave North Korea, it’s important to remember that the DPRK was once the place they called home – in some cases for several decades or more. And while the South Korean government invests substantial resources in helping arriving North Koreans acclimatize to their new lives,

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About the Author

Chad O'Carroll

Chad O'Carroll founded NK News in 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.

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  • Norman Zaczyk

    It seems akward to me that some of them demand the missing innocence of the people outside of North Korea. What are they guilty of? Greedyness is pretty normal for the Western World so i don’t think I (or most other people) are not innocent because of that reason alone… Are these maybe leftovers of the propaganda in North Korea?

    • Perhaps

      Perhaps. Now, when I hear talk of how they miss the closeness of the community, I don’t think so. But when I hear talk about the “Innocence” of life… Well… It may be cultural, it may be translation based, but when I hear that my mind jerks to “The Cleanest Race.” North Korea/ns as the doe-eyed innocents too good to survive in the wicked world without the protection of a paternal leader.

    • Zeedraak

      I don’t think that’s the point. Andrew Holloway spent a year in North Korea and in his story A Year In Pyongyang he recalls the North Koreans to be “sweet, endearing, innocent people…These people may not be creating much wealth but they have a happy time being together”.

      He remembers “a group of young women in their late teens or early twenties whom I guessed to be college students playing tag on the banks of the Potang River. It was not just that they were playing a childhood game, but they were playing it with the high-pitched abandonment that does not survive the junior school playground in the West”.
      “I can honestly say that the citizens of sinister, Stalinist North Korea are the nicest people I have ever met in my life.”

      Apparently the North Koreans are friendly, enthusiastic and naive and this makes them an innocent people.

  • Paul

    There’s definitely a reoccurring theme here. This has made me realise that even here in Australia we don’t have close bonds with our nabours. There a lot we can learn from the innocent people of north korea. We focus on the bad parts of nk we over look the good. The kim cult is near its end & when it dose happen we should not only focus on bring the nk people up to speed but may be slow our selfs down enough to smell the roses & love thy nabour.

    • JK

      Definitely agree on the reoccurring theme and it is true, capitalist societies tend to be more about the individual. But I believe most of what they are feeling is because they are defectors. People create close bonds through their young years, pre 20′s. For them they have left all that behind and it is extremely hard to make close friends past your that. Truly a sad reality, I wish it were not so I feel so much sorrow for them.

  • joshuagenes

    In America southern people have closer bonds with each other than in the north where people feel a little colder. I think this stems from the porch culture that existed before air-conditioning. Compared to a lot of Europeans who culturally mind their own business Americans have less problem getting into each others business to be helpful or friendly. I think North Koreans would do well in America. It would do us well to increase our supply of innocent friendly people.

  • saveourmoney

    It’s sad to read these comments and difficult, if not impossible, to relate to their experience – leaving family, friends, and culture behind forever without so much as a good bye. These defectors have been on an extraordinarily difficult journey; I hope the two Koreas unite in their lifetimes so they can see their loved ones again.

  • Benjamin Wagner

    N Korea and N Koreans praise candidness and lack of guile highly when discussing their interactions amongst themselves but when it comes to interactions with foreigners in the outside world North Korea counsels and practices stratagems, deceit and low cunning.