September 26, 2023

North-South Migration, part 2: A small trickle 1953-90

Defections to South Korea were difficult but well rewarded in post-war years

The division of Korea also brought about the phenomenon of illegal migration from the North to the South (as well as in the opposite direction). The nature of this migration has changed throughout the 70 years of division, and it seems that in the past 2-3 years we have witnessed another change. This four-part mini series deals with the four distinct periods in the history of this migration: 1945-1953, 1953-1990, 1991-2010 and 2011-present.

In July 1953, the Armistice ended active hostilities between the two Korean states, but relations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea have remained tense ever since. Each state has claimed to be the sole legitimate government for all of Korea while describing its opponent as a criminal regime. Technically this is still what both claim, but the legitimacy struggle ceased to be taken seriously in the last two decades.