September 23, 2020

What has been the biggest surprise since you left North Korea? Defector survey

Execution of Jang Song Thaek, growth of cell phone network, and emergence of middle class, among factors

From the execution of Jang Song Thaek last December to the death of Kim Jong Il two years prior, it's safe to say that the past few years have witnessed some of the most significant changes in North Korea in decades. But while rumors about Kim Jong Il's poor health had been swirling since 2008, the rapid purge and execution of Jang Song Thaek showed just how unpredictable events in North Korea can be.

But of course, beyond these major stories broken by North Korean state media, other events and phenomena have occurred that could also have significant impact in the future. From the rise and acceptance of the market economy,to the spread of cell phone technology, to an increasingly affluent middle class, a number of bottom-up changes are occurring in North Korea that could one day have game-changing ramifications.